Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

I Stand Corrected

Today is the coldest day we have had in Pensacola this winter. As we headed out for early church, the temperature was 30 degrees F., there was frost on our roof and the bird bath had a skin of ice on it. “A good day not to exercise,” I said to myself. After church, I spent a couple hours prepping for dinner and making up my oatmeal mix for a couple weeks to come, as I am running low. (Separate blog entry 🙂 )

I’m an early person. If I am going to get it done, I need to get it done early in the day. By five at night, when I need to be thinking about dinner, I just don’t care. I know, I know, I am a bad woman to admit to such a thing, but trust me, I am legion. I’ve learned to think about dinner early in the day, and to prep.

But it’s Sunday, and it’s cold (yes, yes, I am rationalizing) and I swam three days last week and I have all my prep done so I make an executive decision to give myself a break today. And no sooner had I given myself permission to sit myself down than AccuWeather alerted me to an article about the importance of exercising in cold weather, which I will share with you now:

What you need to know about ‘brown fat’ and exercising in the cold

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer & Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather staff writer Copied

AccuWeather’s Dexter Henry talked to a veteran fitness instructor and the creator of Fit N’ Play Mama about ways you can stay active this holiday season.

The shift to colder, winter weather often makes us feel lethargic and deters our motivation to go outside. 

But before you pull over the blankets or curl up by the fire to watch your favorite show, you should consider the potential benefits of cold-weather workouts. 

Aside from helping to ease fears of potential winter weight gain, exercising outdoors in colder weather has numerous health benefits. 

New York City native Alec Barab gets in a morning run in the snow on 12th Ave. in Denver’s historic district on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

While many avoid the cold, outdoor winter workouts are a great way to take in small doses of sunlight. The sunlight can help to improve mood and help with vitamin D intake, according to the American Heart Association (AHA)

Winter exercise boosts immunity during cold and flu season. A few minutes a day can help prevent simple bacterial and viral infections, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Shivering, a mechanism to produce heat, also burns a significant amount of calories. Studies have shown that people expend five times more energy when shivering, compared to when they are resting. 

CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE ACCUWEATHER APP

Regardless of exercise, studies have shown that being outside in cold weather can transform white fat, specifically belly and thigh fat, into calorie-burning beige or brown fat. 

Brown fat’s purpose is to burn calories to generate heat. Brown fat is often referred to as the “good” fat because it helps to burn rather than store calories. It is typically found in areas around the neck and kidneys.

AccuWeather National Weather Reporter Dexter Henry recently sat down with Nataliya Galifianakis, a clinical assistant professor of biology at New York University to learn more about how brown fat is beneficial during the winter. 

NYU Clinical Assistant Professor Nataliya Galifianakis explains the effects of exercising in cold weather and how that generates brown fat in the human body. (AccuWeather)

“Brown fat can actually create heat,” Galifianakis told Henry. “Brown fat cells instead of using calories to make energy, it uses calories to produce heat.” 

One of the signals for the activation of brown fat is exercise, Galifianakis said. 

In addition to making new brown fat because a human body exercises, the generation of brown fat is also increased because someone is exercising in the cold weather, she explained. 

“Brown fat could be activated by cold,” Galifianakis said. “Chronic cold exposure activates your brown fat cells.” 

A 2014 study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, showed people have more genetic markers for brown fat in the winter than during the warmer months. This could signal slightly more calorie burn in the winter as the body insulates itself.

“Browning fat tissue would be an excellent defense against obesity. It would result in the body burning extra calories rather than converting them into additional fat tissue,” study author Dr. Philip A. Kern said in a release.

People run in the snow across the Williamsburg Bridge, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

While the cold weather may deter some from outdoor physical activity, working out in the cold has several advantages over warmer weather workouts.

There is no heat and humidity to deal with in colder weather. Winter’s chill might even make you feel awake and invigorated, according to the AHA.

In the cold, your body can regulate its temperature a little better. This means you can often exercise farther or longer; therefore, you can potentially burn even more calories, according to AHA.

Exercising in extreme temperatures, hot or cold, has shown the ability to enhance endurance and mental edge. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and proper safety precautions before venturing out.

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So me again. I stand corrected. I know I need to go out for a swift walk, and shiver in the cold, burn that brown fat! And here I sit, in my toasty warm house, watching Fareed Zacharia and chatting with you . . . . Most days I exercise early, and it actually gives me more energy; I accomplish more during the day when I exercise early. If I miss that first-thing-in-the-morning slot, it’s a lot harder to get to it later. I’m thinking about it.

January 10, 2021 - Posted by | Aging, Biography, Blogging, Cooking, Exercise, Food, News, Quality of Life Issues, Survival, Weather | , ,

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