Sunday, February 16, 2014

Shivering Can Help You Stay Thin

News Brief by Jessica Newfield

The National Institute of Health has conducted a study which found that exposure to cold weather can cause crucial hormonal changes faster than exercise. These hormonal changes are important because they are linked to the creation of brown fat. Brown fat, once thought to only be present in babies, is actually found in greater amounts in slimmer people and is used to burn excess calories. This research contributes to growing evidence which suggests that exposure to cold temperatures every day is effective in weight control and weight loss.

The hormones irisin and FGF21 are released from shivering and change white fat into brown fat. This is important because white fat is where excess calories are stored and brown fat burns those calories. This study found that volunteers who experienced 10-15 minutes of shivering released levels of irisin and FGF21 comparable to levels released during an hour of pedaling on a bike. These hormones that aid in transforming white fat into brown fat are beneficial as brown fat can lower glucose levels and therefore may help to lower obesity levels. This study supports other evidence that exposure to mild cold is a healthy way for people to control and lose weight. Despite the cold temperatures in the winter, this becomes difficult as indoor temperatures are always controlled and may reduce exposure to cold temperatures. The lack of varied temperatures may make people more vulnerable to develop diseases like obesity.

Gray, Richard. (2014). “Shivering can help you stay thin.” The Telegraph. Feb 4 2014.
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