There is an upside to the cold weather. It may actually help you lose weight. A little chill may burn calories, reports MedPage Today on Jan. 22, 2014. Researchers have said turning down the heat and spending more time in cooler temperatures may help promote burning calories.
According to Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, PhD, from Masstricht University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues, frequent exposure to mild cold can effect energy expenditure over the course of time. It has been observed that nonshivering thermogenesis, or an increase in heat production due to the cold, may activate calorie burning brown fat. Furthermore, the researchers say "temperature training" keeps the peripheral vascular system in motion, which helps to strengthen the cardiovascular system.
If homes, offices, and even hospitals are cooled and heated for maximum comfort, this may minimize the body's ability to control its own temperature. This can lead to an increased susceptibility to obesity and its associated disorders. Temperature training is now being considered by these researchers as a potential part of a healthy lifestyle. Gradual temperature variations of about 2°C per hour over a range of 17-25°C (62-77°F) can encourage nonshiverving thermogenesis and increase calories which are burned without making the environment uncomfortable.
It is reported in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism that obesity is a consequence of positive energy balance. This can be countered by eating less, increasing physical activity, or pharmacological approaches. However, weight maintenance is generally very difficult and disappointing. The researchers have suggested that regular exposure to mild cold may provide a healthy sustainable alternative way to increase energy expenditure. Therefore, it's possible a little cold a day could help keep the doctor away.