Weird Ways the Fall Season Affects Your Health
By By Mandy Oaklander
October 01, 2013, 9:18:26 AM EDT
Welcome to pumpkin-carving, leaf-pile-jumping, see-your-breath fall. While the season comes with some obvious differences from summer, fall also brings about some not-so-evident changes. (And no, we’re not talking seasonal affective disorder.) Check out ways the season’s about to change you.
You’ll get chattier. Just as the nights of fall get longer, so do your phone calls, finds a new study in the journal PLOS One. Researchers at the University of Newcastle studied 1.3 million cell phone users in Portugal and found that in uncomfortable weather—like cold and wet—calls lasted longer and contact lists shrunk. During bad weather, you make the most calls to close friends and family instead of your wider network, researchers found.
Your heart will pound. Lower temps cause blood vessels to constrict in an effort to conserve heat, which makes blood pressure rise slightly, according to Jerome Cohen, MD, emeritus professor of internal medicine at Saint Louis University. This could be a big deal if you have hypertension; researchers found that heart attack incidence increases up to 53% in the winter (so avoid doing suddenly strenuous activities like shoveling snow if you have high BP).
It’ll make you thirsty. When the weather gets cold, the last thing on your mind might be grabbing the water bottle—but it should be. We’re actually more likely to get dehydrated in cold months, since we sub water for diuretics like coffee and tea. A lack of H2O can lead to dry, cracked lips and general lethargy, so make sure to carry your water habit into fall and winter.
Your memory will get a boost. Your brain is actually sharper when it’s nasty out, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. Researchers from the University of South Wales in Australia conducted an experiment at a grocery store where shoppers were exposed to 10 unusual impulse-buy items. The group with the strongest recall of those items was the one tested on cloudy, rainy days—not the sunny, bright-day shoppers.
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