Chill out. Or warm up. Do one or the other and you’ll shed pounds, according to a new study from the Netherlands.
Researchers found that exposure to mildly cold or warm environments that are outside the standard comfort zone inside buildings — about 70 degrees F — speeds metabolism, “thereby targeting obesity by counterbalancing excess energy intake.” Benefits don’t end there. For people with type 2 diabetes, exposure to mild coldness influences glucose metabolism and after 10 days of intermittent cold, patients had increased insulin sensitivity by more than 40%. The results for diabetes treatment are comparable with the best pharmaceutical solutions available.
“Does this mean that we have to suffer from discomfort in order to become healthy?” study authors noted in the journal Building Research Information, where the research was published. “Probably not.”
They suggest that living and work environments would be better for health if they were thermally dynamic. In such an environment people could get used temperature changes. “It has previously been assumed that stable fixed indoor temperatures would satisfy comfort and health in most people,” said lead author Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt.
“However, this research indicates that mild cold and variable temperatures may have a positive effect on our health and at the same time are acceptable or even may create pleasure.”