A Surprising Health Benefit Of Exercising In The Cold

If you’re like many people, you might use cold weather as an excuse to skip a workout. But some new research might indicate that exercising in the cold can help burn more calories. The key to this lies in our bodies’ stores of brown fat, which is sometimes called “good” fat. This type of fat burns calories as it also generates heat. And according to some studies, you can activate the brown fat in your body by exercising in lower temperatures.

A scientist at Harvard Medical School who was one of the first researchers to discover the existence of brown fat, Dr. C. Ronald Kahn, says that “the average person will burn an extra 100 to 200 calories a day when brown fat is activated.”

So how cold is cold enough? “What it takes to activate brown fat is very mild degrees of cold,” advises Kahn. “If I put you in a room at 60 or 62 degrees Fahrenheit and you’re dressed in very light clothing, that’s enough to do it.”

However, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health cautions against putting too much faith in the calorie-burning benefits of working out in the cold. Dr. Aaron Cypess says “the most important thing is to get the person to exercise. There is no obvious added benefit to exercising in the cold.”

Image credit: Mohammad Javad Abjoushak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images