Cold, cold winter has an upside, says Ottawa researcher
A runner makes their way past skaters on the Rideau Canal in the midst of a near Canadian-wide cold snap Thursday, Jan. 2, 2013. CBC
An Ottawa researcher says this winter's deep freeze could have positive health benefits if people took a little more time to get outside.
University of Ottawa Health Sciences professor Pascal Imbeault said he understands people need to be properly dressed for cold temperatures.
But he and another researcher have found that in extreme cold the body produces a protein called Adiponectin that can help prevent cancer.
Even standing outside in the cold can be good for you because it increases the body's metabolism, says Imbeault.
Those findings are cold comfort to Ottawa residents who have endured one of the coldest winters in years, and one not expected to let up in March.
6 frostbite warnings, 12 advisories, since December
Since December, there have been 12 frostbite advisories and six frostbite warnings — when wind chills of -25 C and -35 C respectively are forecast.
While many of these advisories were overnight, schools concerned about the potential for frostbite have often kept children in for recess and lunch this winter.
Glen Cairn Public School principal Shannon Smith estimates her school has had ten days where students were kept indoors.
"Our back field is very open so if there's a wind that's blowing across there it can make it a lot more unpleasant than if we didn't have wind that day," said Smith.
Smith said on some days she has tried to get the children a little bit of time outside and said it is a balancing act.
"That's why sometimes we make that call that we'll go outside and try for at least ten minutes and then maybe ring the bells and bring the kids in," she said.
It's not clear whether more children staying indoors has led to more ailments such as the flu or respiratory infections, but earlier this week the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario said it was experiencing higher-than usual wait times as more and more parents were taking their children to the hospital's emergency department.
Environment Canada is forecasting a colder than usual March for the Ottawa region.
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