Nfld. & Labrador

How Newfoundland's 'summer weather' is affecting your body

This summer’s inclement weather may do more than just ruin your picnic plans — the grey skies and cold winds may actually have an effect on your health.

A cold summer is nothing to sneeze at

It's been a cold summer--tourists have had to bundle up for boat tours on the Southern Shore on Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador's inclement summer weather may do more than just ruin your picnic plans.

The grey skies and cold winds may actually have an effect on your health.

SAD in the summer?

During the winter, some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a depressed mood due to limited light exposure.

However, with Newfoundland and Labrador's dreary summer weather, Dr. Peter Lin told CBC's St. John's Morning Show that people may experience a milder version of SAD this July.

"If it's not bright outside you're supposed to go and hibernate," said Lin, who added that on bright days people are more likely to feel lively and energetic.

"Your brain just wants to know that it's summertime."

Lin said that it's important to get enough sleep when feeling sluggish, but also to push your body to stay active.

"If you're sleeping not enough right now, then I want you to make sure those days to get those eight hours," he said.

"So get your sleep together and when there is light, get outside. Even when there's no light, stay active because you want your muscles to stay strong, you want your heart to stay strong."

Lin said that when the weather is bad during the summer, people are less likely to stay active, which can lead to muscle deterioration.

"On a nice sunny day you feel perky and you want to do things, but on a gloomy day you just want to curl up and go to sleep," he said.

The gloomy summer weather this year keeps many people indoors, dreaming of warmer locations. (Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

"It's like when your parents used to say, 'When you leave the room turn out the lights.' Well the same thing here. If you don't move around, your body says, you know what? They're not moving so why are we keeping this expensive stuff that's using a lot of calories?"

Lin also said that people who experience cycles of moods based on the weather should consider light therapy.

Colds in the cold

Microbiologist Jason Tetro said more people seem to be catching the 'winter cold' this season than the typical summer cold.

A strain of cold called the enterovirus is usually more common in the summer. This virus spreads better with higher temperatures and greater humidity.

However, because high temperatures have been a rarity this summer, Tetro said that more people are catching rhinovirus, which prefers colder temperatures and lower humidity.

With all the cold weather this summer, microbiologist Jason Tetro said more people in Newfoundland and Labrador are catching the 'winter cold' than the summer one. (CBC)

"If you look at the amount of rhinovirus that's spreading in Newfoundland as we speak, it pretty much shows that yeah you're still kind of in winter or spring," said Tetro.

The two viruses are part of the same family and have many of the same symptoms, including a runny nose, sinus congestion, and ear pain. However, the enterovirus often lasts longer and can be harder to fight.

Tetro said the most likely source of catching an enterovirus is through recreational waters, like lakes and rivers. The virus can also spread through fecal matter, so it's important to wash your hands regularly.

Because of the prevalence of summer allergies, Tetro said some people may not realize they have a cold and not practice proper hygiene.

However, there are certain distinguishing features — allergies often lead to puffy and bloodshot eyes, as well as bright green mucus. Infections, meanwhile, cause clear mucus and lead to more constant, less sporadic symptoms.

Air conditioning not great for immune system

Tetro said that while air conditioning may feel great on the rare hot day, the cold rush can be hard on the immune system.

"Nothing depresses an immune system better than a rapid shift in temperature," said Tetro.

"If you have air conditioning, use it gently. Don't make it very very cold. If you don't have AC, drink lots of liquids, keep up on the electrolytes."

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