5 myths about cold weather and what's really true

HOUSTON – Here are a few things that most people believe to be true about our health … but they're not:

Cold weather makes you sick

A pediatrician from Memorial Hermann, Dr. Rachel Kelt, said even though flu season peaks during winter, the virus actually doesn't have to do with cold weather.

Kelt said all viruses tend to be more popular simply because of the date on the calendar, not the temperature. 

It's too cold to run

According to the National Institutes of Health, cold temperatures improve race times for some people.

One UTMB physician said the body's ideal running temperature is when it's 50 degrees outside.

Allergies don't exist in the winter

Contrary to popular belief, allergies still exist in winter. In Houston, it's not cold enough to kill off allergens.

"Unfortunately here, we never get a true hard freeze that lasts for a long time," said Texas ENT Dr. Ashley Wenaas. "You'll have mold exposure that will be all throughout the winter and here in Houston we do have pollen that lasts all throughout the winter months."

Even if you live somewhere where it does freeze, there are still indoor allergies (dust, mold) that can lead to allergic symptoms: coughing, sneezing, itching, runny nose.

It's just winter blues

Dr. Asim Shah with Baylor College of Medicine said with the shorter days, you may feel the effects of seasonal affective disorder that can contribute to winter depression, especially around the holidays. 

It can really happen but it doesn't affect that many people, so if you're feeling depressed with holiday schedules, family stress and worries about spending, you may need to speak with someone about good coping skills.

If you notice someone is feeling excluded this time of year, now is the time to help out.

"If you have somebody who doesn't have anybody coming, maybe take a gift for them, even if it's a token, invite them. Take a pie or something. So engage them, invite them and make them happy. That is the whole spirit of holidays," Shah said.

Alcohol warms you up

Don't believe the myth that alcohol keeps you warm. 

Really, it causes your blood to rush toward your skin and away from your internal organs. That means your core body temperature actually drops and it impairs your body's ability to shiver and create extra heat.