The myth: Cold weather is the main cause of the common cold.

Don’t go out without a coat, or you’ll catch your death.

How many times did you hear this from your grandma when you were growing up?

The facts

Does being cold cause a cold? No, that’s a myth. The common cold is caused by rhinoviruses. There are 99 recognized types of human rhinoviruses, and they attack the body’s upper respiratory tract. Similarly, you need to come into contact with the influenza virus to contract the flu.

While there isn’t a connection between low temperatures and catching a cold, the cold weather outside might add some contributing factors. Cold weather is dry weather, which causes your nasal passages to get dry. The viruses that cause the common cold enter your body through your mouth, your nose and your ears. If your nose is dry and the blood vessels inside it are constricted, it will affect the delivery of infection-fighting white blood cells. So if fewer white blood cells reach the nose and throat, your defences against a cold virus are lowered for a short time while you’re out in the cold. Again, during this time you’d have to come into contact witha rhinovirus.

Another reason we tend to get sick more often during the cold season is because we spend more time inside, in close proximity to other people. This, in turn, increases our exposure to viruses and germs.

Due to the short days and the lack of sunlight in winter, our bodies run low on Vitamin D, which helps power our immune system. This shortage contributes to making us more vulnerable to infection.

Nevertheless, the official recommendation of the American College of Sports Medicine states that “For the most part, cold weather is not a barrier to performing physical activity. Successful and safe exploration to the North and South Poles, and swimming for hours across the English Channel are clearly indicative that human beings can perform in extreme cold.”

The takeaway

Set a schedule for yourself to spend time outside when it’s cold. Indeed, it’s not only not harmful to go outside, you should also exercise outside in the cold months, if possible. If not, take a quick walk around the blog, do a chore outside, go for a short bike ride if the roads aren’t dangerous, or go for a mild jog.