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iStock 847006336 CroppedWho knew arctic-like temperatures could do your body good?

While many of us use the cold weather as an excuse to pack on the pounds to keep warm during the winter months, new research suggests that frigid temperatures might help you shed a few extra calories.

A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism found that all the shivering we have been doing thus far this winter stimulates the secretion of irisin, which has been called the "exercise hormone". This hormone produces heat to maintain internal body temperatures through the production of fat tissue. In simple terms: the more a person shivers, the more irisin is released.

If irisin sounds familiar, it is because it’s the same hormone produced when you exercise and is believed to help transform white fat to brown fat. As your personal trainer may have told you in between reps, brown fat is a secret weapon in burning calories!


The study also proposes that shivering-related muscle contractions can lead to exercise-induced irisin secretion. This revelation additionally clarifies why irisin is produced during exercise and explains why we often look like we have come out of a sauna, flush-faced, shirt clinging to our body in all the wrong places, with the little bit left of our mascara running down our cheeks, when we leave the gym.

So, if you’re looking for a new way to burn calories and have already traded in your office chair for an exercise ball, switched over from lattes to unpleasant green juice drinks, and do lunges while you brush your teeth, then consider turning your thermostat down. Maybe even brave the cold for a few weekly walks around your neighborhood. You might just be slipping into those skinny jeans by the time spring rolls around.

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