Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we look at the perks of time off social media, what happens to your body in extreme cold and the secrets scientists are uncovering about fascia.

The bennies of banning Facebook—could you do it?

Ever wondered whether your life would be better without Facebook? A comprehensive new study by researchers at Stanford University and New York University provides some answers to that question, according to this piece in The New York Times.

Privacy issues aside, some of the benefits of staying off the world’s most popular digital platform are immediate, including more time with family and friends, less partisan drama, and a small bump in daily moods and life satisfaction. And for the average Facebook user, it means an extra hour of downtime—twice that for heavy users.

In the study, nearly 3,000 users filled out extensive questionnaires about their daily routines, habits and state of mind. Half of those were randomly assigned to deactivate their account in exchange for payment. Those that agreed to deactivate, were willing to exchange that month of groups, friends and newsfeed, researchers found, for around $100 on average.       Subjects received text messages to check their mood as well as extensive surveys afterward about their state of mind, daily activities, political awareness and partisan passion.

Deactivating Facebook, the study found, had a small but positive effect on people’s moods and life satisfaction, and surprisingly, it did not increase the time participants spent on Twitter, Snapchat or online browsing.

What happens when you’re outside in extreme temps

With parts of the U.S. experiencing some of the coldest temperatures in decades this winter, being outside without adequate protection—even for a few minutes—can be dangerous.

Here’s a primer from Time Health on what happens to your body when you’re exposed to extreme cold:

  • First, your blood vessels start to contract, reducing blood flow to your ears, fingers and toes to focus on keeping your brain and internal organs warm. That’s OK for most people, except those with pre-existing heart conditions, which may be at risk from complications associated with changes in blood pressure.
  • After just five to 15 minutes outside, the dangers of frostbite or freezing of the skin and underlying tissues escalates. It can happen especially quickly if your skin is wet or not covered up with hats, gloves, boots or warm clothing. The risk is real in temperatures below 5 degrees Fahrenheit and especially pronounced when the thermometer drops below negative 16.6 degrees. Mild frostbite, which starts off with a prickly feeling, followed by numbness and a blue or waxy look, can be reversed with warm water and blankets, but severe frostbite can cause lasting damage.
  • After 30 minutes to an hour, signs of hypothermia—a core body temperature below 95 degrees—can surface, causing confusion, slurred words and neurologic changes, as well as potential problems with the heartbeat as central organs are affected.

Bottom line: Bundle up adequately and come inside every few minutes when the big freeze is on.

Uncovering the mysteries of fascia

When you get a massage, you might not realize that you’re having someone manipulate your fascia, a three-tiered layer of tissue that encases and connects your entire body’s organs, muscles, arteries, veins and nerves.

Scientists have long been confused about what distinguishes fascia from other connective tissue and what kind of role it plays in the body’s functions outside of helping you move. Some new research suggests that when this thin tissue gets too stiff, it may play a much bigger role in problems that seem unrelated, such as digestive ailments, lymphedema or cancer.

Research is still preliminary on fascia, but if you’re looking to learn more about it, or give yourself another reason for that rubdown, check out this article in The Washington Post.

Photo credit: IB Wira Dyatmika, Unsplash