Stay cool

By | Health & Wellness
Turning down your thermostat for a couple hours a day can help speed up your metabolism: obesitypanacea flickr

Having home temperature reduced by seven or eight degrees might have a healthy impact on ones weight along with helping to reduce heating bills. A recent study by researchers at Maastricht University Medical Centre, Netherlands, has concluded a cooler home temperature may speed metabolism and help burn fat.

The average household temperature sits around 69F (21C) however the scientists advise turning the thermostat down to between 62F (17C) and 59F (15C) for at least a few hours a day. Spending time at home or working inside, such as in an office, the body may likely to become accustomed to the overheated environment and allow calories to burn slowly.

By reducing body temperature, metabolic rate is likely to increase by 30 percent, with shivering in particular burning almost 500 calories an hour. Lead author Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, whose study has lasted the past 10 years, suggests it may be healthy to expose oneself to colder environments on a regular basis to help push the metabolism into working, much like how exercise works.

He said: “We suggest regular exposure to mild cold may provide a healthy and sustainable alternative strategy for increasing energy expenditure. Thermal comfort in the built environment may increase susceptibility to obesity and related conditions. Mild cold exposure increases body energy expenditure without shivering and without compromising precious comfort. More frequent cold exposure may be a factor to consider in creating a sustainable environment together with a healthy lifestyle.”

With the advancement of technology over the past century it may become easier to control the heating of the home.Waking up to a cosy and warm to the pre-set auto temperature and later arrive home from work to a blast of heat which was fired up an hour earlier on a mobile phone app may prove to be a support line with technology. The Dutch team however concluded temperatures closer to the outside air may be more beneficial to health; participants who spent six hours at 59F (15C) for a length of 10 days had increased levels of calorie burning brown fat, felt more comfortable and eventually shivered minimally.

Dr Marken Lichtenbelt continues: “In the past century several changes in the daily living circumstances in Western civilization have occurred, affecting health. For example, we are much better able to control our ambient temperature. Consequently, we cool and heat our dwellings for maximal comfort while minimizing our body energy expenditure necessary to control body temperature. By a small amount of exposure to varied temperatures entire populations may be prone to developing obesity. Since most of us are exposed to indoor conditions 90 per cent of the time, it is worth exploring health aspects of ambient temperatures.” Although turning down the thermostat by 1°C may reduce heating bills by up to 10% a year.Maintaining a healthy heat includes helping to prevent the development of moisture in the air.

Every day activities such as cooking, showering and drying laundry add to the moisture levels in the home. Keep your home at a safe and healthy temperature. To increase metabolism and reduce heating bills, then aim to find a time in the day to turn off the central heating. A healthy time may be during sleeping hours; allowing internal organs to work in order to pump blood around to the body and keep warm may be a healthy procedure over the seven to eight hours when resting.

How might the home benefit health in other ways?

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