Does Cold Weather Cause Colds?

The myth: Cold weather makes you sick. True or false? Mike Dawson has the answer.

You've been told your whole life to bundle up when braving the cold or else you'll get sick. Makes sense. After all, fall and winter are the seasons when sniffles and sore throats strike, so many a mom has spouted the myth that the cold somehow saps the immune system.

But now that jacket and scarf season is back in full swing, it's time you learned the truth: These things don't truly guard you from the flu or the common cold. Studies have shown that a drop in the mercury doesn't directly affect your health (assuming you're not verging on hypothermia).

Sure, cold and flu season is, in fact, from October to March. But this has nothing to do with being exposed to cool temperatures. Rather, falling ill has everything to do with clocking more time indoors whilst breathing the same air and touching the same surfaces as everyone else (sorry, germaphobes).

What's worse, a formidable study shows the flu spreads when the humidity is low and the temperature is high. With fall and winter already boasting the year's lowest relative humidity, adding indoor heat to an already bone-dry home, office, or airplane creates an ideal breeding ground for a debilitating bug.

Surprisingly, heading outdoors and sweating in the frigid temperatures may actually help you fight colds. Studies have shown that those who exercise regularly during the cooler months are less susceptible to upper respiratory infections and the common cold.

— Dawson is a magazine writer and editor and a regular contributor to Details.

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