When you’re in the midst of a bitter cold winter, it’s hard to find much of anything to be grateful for.
After all, who wants to spend time worrying about slipping on ice or struggling to stay warm.
Though you may prefer to just stay inside where it’s warm, drinking hot chocolate, at some point, you’ll have to go outside.
If you’re out there and find yourself shivering, take heart in knowing that it’s actually good for you.
Why Your Body Shivers
We all know that our core body temperature is supposed to stay right around 98.6. We know that when we are sick our core temperature rises. It’s how the body fights infection.
The body works hard to stay at 98.6, so when our core temperature falls below that mark, it works to bring it back up to where it belongs.
Our brains constantly monitor our skin. If our bodies are too warm, it sends a message to make sweat to cool us off.
When we are too cold it sends a message to warm us up. It does this by making our muscles contract in bursts. That’s what we see when our bodies shake and our teeth chatter.
It’s the brain’s version of exercising our body. It also sends us a message that we should get ourselves to shelter and find warmth.
How Shivering Benefits Your Body
So now we know that shivering is the brain’s way of making sure we take care of ourselves. Beyond that, there’s another way that it can be good for us.
As it turns out, shivering is a great way to increase the amount of brown fat that we burn.Tweet
Brown fat is the fat that makes those adorable rolls on baby’s arms and legs. It keeps them warm specifically because they can’t shiver, but in adults, it does something different.
Adults use brown fat to generate heat to burn calories. When you exercise, you contract your muscles in the same way that shivering does.
This movement creates a hormone called irisin that makes white fat cells act like brown fat cells. That means that we are burning calories at a higher level, and more efficiently.
Can I Just Turn Down My Thermostat?
Let’s look at the numbers and see what the science means in real life.
A study conducted in 2013 showed that people exposed to mild cold that did not induce shivering still burned more calories than they would in a comfortable room – but not that much. So turning down your thermostat is not going to help you lose weight.
By contrast, 15 minutes of shivering from the cold burns around 100 calories. This is a result of both the muscle movement and changing your white fat cells into more efficient fat burners.
If you’re exercising in the cold, or even shoveling snow, you can figure that you’ll burn 210 calories for each half hour.
After all this talk of cold weather, you might want a nice mug of hot chocolate to drink. Try this healthy version:
Healthier Hot Chocolate
1 cup almond milk
2 tsps. cacao powder
1 T pure maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
Combine all the ingredients into a saucepan over high heat. Stir until smooth and enjoy!
Yours in health,
P.S. Please share this info. with your friends and I always love hearing from you in the comments below. Do you avoid going outside during the Winter?