As the winter weather gets colder every year, people exercise less than other seasons. At the same time, they usually consume rich foods that will feed the body with a tremendous amount of calories. These pleasant habits in winter can dramatically increase your weight in just a few months. People who are aware of it dream of a way to lose weight more efficiently.
Some of you may have heard that exercising at the cold temperature can burn more calories. You might hear it from your E-mail ads, newspapers or magazines and it is true according to a press release from the University of Albany titled, “Winter Exercise Burns More Calories, Especially for Women.” Everybody knows that it consumes a lot of energy when it is cold. So from now on, we will look at the intuitive facts about it.
First, our body produces heat with burning calories when the temperature is below 0 degrees Celsius. We call it ‘thermogenesis’. Here’s a way of thermogenesis: shivering. Involuntary tremors of the muscles generate warmth and keep our body temperature (37 degrees Celsius). Or your body may generate the heat by burning off ‘brown fat,’ the kind of fat tissue whose main function is heat production. Brown fats produce heat while white fats preserve.Aaron Cypess, a metabolism and brown fat researcher at the National Institutes of Health, explained the difference between them with the following comparison. “They both have fuel or fat, but the oil tanker stores it for use later, and that’s the white fat. The sports car stores fuel to burn it, and that’s the brown fat.” We call this ‘non-shivering thermogenesis.’
“You don’t even know its happening, it’s below the radar of your conscious thought, but it’s there ticking away,” said Herman Pontzer, an associate professor at Hunter College who studies energetics. Going back to this topic again, assuming that you exercise in cold weather, we have an obstacle. When you exercise, your muscles can produce enough heat by moving. Therefore, when you exercise, enough heat is produced that you do not have to consume the extra calories by burning more brown fat. On the other hand, if you sit in thin clothes in cold weather, your body will start shivering its calories to keep its temperature. “The best way to use the cold to burn more calories would be to not exercise while you’re outdoors,” Pontzer added. “You’d get your brown fat cooking and making heat, and might even start shivering, all of which burns calories.”
Cypess imagined a scenario in which when a person wears light clothing at sub-zero temperatures, exercise cannot maintain body temperature and extra thermogenesis begins.But even in this case, Cypess said, you can generate additional calories. The study was conducted with all participants in a cold room all day, and participants burned 150-200 calories more. Again, that’s a full day of cold, not an hour’s worth of outdoor activity.
However, you must remember that physical activity makes up an extremely small part of the total calorie consumption during the day. There are three parts which use calories. First one is your basal metabolic rate. It is the energy used for basic functioning when the body is at rest. And the second one is the energy used to break down food. And then last, our body burns calories for the energy used in physical activity. For most people, the basal metabolic rate accounts for 60 to 80 percent of total energy expenditure. Digesting food accounts for about 10 percent. That leaves only 10 to 30 percent for physical activity, of which exercise is only a subset. Thermogenesis is an even more minor player, Cypess said, usually accounting for less than five or 10 percent of your total energy expenditure (depending on how much time you’ve spent in the cold). Therefore, exercising in cold weather might be not a very efficient idea than we expected.
So, if you want to make up for the overeating of the previous day, it will be more efficient to consider the amount of meal afterward rather than trying to exercise comfortably. Only consistent exercise will be the answer for the winter.