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Monday, January 12, 2015

Cold weather may spur weight loss

Feeling the January chill? Well, being cold isn't all bad. Scientists have found that exposing yourself to cold temperatures regularly could speed up weight loss.

It turns out there just might really be a way to burn calories more efficiently without slaving away at the gym or (god forbid) turning down dessert. The trick barely takes any effort: Just step outdoors or lower your thermostat, and you could be golden — if the newest research from the Center for Integrative Metabolic and Endocrine Research at the Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, checks out. 
To get how all this works, you need to know a bit about fat: When you eat more calories than you burn, your body stores the leftovers as white or brown fat, explains James Granneman, Ph.D., a scientist at Wayne State University who co-authored the new research. White fat can accumulate in your tissues, cause inflammation, and mess with your health, while brown fat creates energy more efficiently, generates heat, and excretes a mix of hormones that further promote energy metabolism. Because of this, it's in your best interest to have more brown fat than white fat.
To figure out what controls that brown-to-white fat ratio, Granneman and his colleagues assessed the body fat of mice before and after exposing them to 40-degrees Fahrenheit temperatures for one week straight. To put this in perspective, that's the temperature of the average refrigerator.
The cold temperatures favored brown fat and made white fat act a little more like brown fat, according to Granneman. The likely culprit is adrenaline, the same hormone and neurotransmitter that your body spews out when you're scared. (Which makes sense — just thinking about spending a week in a Sub-Zero is enough to scare anyone shitless.)

Even if you could handle a week in near-freezing temperatures, which you'd need to do to give your brown fat a leg up, it probably wouldn't boost your calorie burn enough to significantly affect your weight (or your health), says Granneman, who co-authored human research on the topic. But scientists are still digging around for ways to enhance the benefits of brown fat, he adds.

The bottom line is that all fat isn't equally bad — and that while winter weather is a bitch, chilly temperatures could, at least in theory, help your fat behave (even just a bit).

Take fitness outdoors this winter
Winter activities are a great way to mix up your fitness program and beat the winter blues. Get creative this winter and even if you can’t get to the gym, add fun new activities that your whole family can enjoy.
To make the most of your winter workouts, begin by changing your attitude toward the cold. With some planning, appropriate clothing and a spirit of adventure, winter outdoor fitness can be fun and effective.
Go out and play: Whether you have children or just act like a child, play is good for your heart and soul. Building a snowman is functional training and builds mobility and strength. Depending on how big you build it, you may burn as many calories as weightlifting or jogging. The bigger the snowman the more strength benefits you get. A vigorous snowball fight will burn up calories and work your whole body. And if you’re not into these activities, make snow angels. It’s good for flexibility and will elevate your heart rate.

Take up a winter sport: Skating is a fantastic non-impact cardiovascular sport. An outdoor skate feels invigorating without impact. If your joints can’t take running; skating and cross-country skiing are great alternatives. These gliding activities train balance, mobility and co-ordination. Cross-country skiing is one of the best calorie burning activities, as it requires both upper and lower body in the movement. If you don’t know how, don’t worry as these activities are easy to learn.
When the snow falls, snowshoeing is one activity that burns mega calories and is an excellent cardiovascular sport, burning equivalent or higher calories then running depending on your intensity and the snow conditions. Snowshoeing is one of the fastest growing winter sports. Not only is it an amazing fitness activity, it is convenient and easy to learn. If you can walk you can snowshoe.
Snowshoeing is great conditioning for running. Snowshoes add resistance, yet there is less impact to the joints. In fact, research shows that runners who substituted snowshoeing in the winter improved their running fitness over those who chose running as their primary activity.
Tobogganing is another healthy winter activity. Pulling a sled up hill will raise your heart rate and strengthen the upper and lower body. In fact, many of the top trainers are recommending sled pulling as an excellent cardiovascular workout. Instead of pulling a sled indoors, take it back to its origin and see amazing results. Plus you get the exhilaration of sliding downhill at rapid speeds.
Decreased motivation and feelings of sadness are common in the winter. Getting outdoors and catching even an hour of daylight can raise the spirits. Physical exercise stimulates the release of endorphins that gives you an overall feeling of well-being.
Remember when your parents used to send you outdoors to get some “fresh air?” Well, there is something to be said about this wise tale. Getting outdoors in the fresh air is good for your respiratory system. Being locked indoors with re-circulated air can cause headaches and congestion. Stepping outside and going for a walk can relieve headaches and help you breathe more easily.

While there are many great ways to workout outdoors this winter, be sure to always stay safe. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
1. — Dress for the weather. Layer your clothing to accommodate for the changing environment from cold to hot as you work out.
2. — Wear reflective clothing and avoid black. With darkness in the morning and early evening protect yourself by being seen.
3. — Keep your feet, hands and head warm, as this is where you lose the most heat. Cover up with appropriate winter gear.
4. — Wear shoes with good traction to avoid slipping.
5. — Find a workout buddy or let someone know you are going outdoors. You never know what can happen and you want to be sure someone knows where you are in case of an emergency.
6. — Carry a cellphone and don’t go out alone in the wilderness. Always check in with the park warden.
7. — Bring water and snacks. Even though you may not feel like you are sweating, you are still expending energy and dehydrating from exercise.
Change your perspective and get excited this winter about fitness. Winter activities are exhilarating and good for your health. Embrace the season and wrap up your winter fitness activity with a cup of dark chocolate milk.

Source: http://www.cosmopolitan.com/; http://calgaryherald.com/