TIME Weight loss

Winter Workout: Shiver Away the Pounds

Man in hat with sweater pulled up over face
Getty Images/Altrendo

Being really cold may actually help you burn fat

If you can’t get to the gym today, consider spending a little time out in the cold.

A new study reports that shivering can lead to some of the same slimming benefits as exercise.

Researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases conducted a study of 10 healthy volunteers. During the first experiment, the participants’ energy expenditure was measured and blood samples taken after working out at their highest capacity. In a second experiment, the same participants laid in beds that with blankets cooled to a chilly 53 degrees Fahrenheit, cold enough to cause the participants to shiver.

Researchers found that both exercise and shivering produced similar amounts of a hormone called irisin, which is known to stimulate body tissue and produce heat. This process creates what’s called brown fat, which actually eats away at the body’s white fat–the stuff that builds up around the hips. White fat cultures in the lab also burned more energy when exposed to irisin.

So should we be skipping our workouts for some quality time in the freezing snow? Not quite, researchers say, but they are hopeful that the findings could lead them on a path to finding a new treatment for obesity.

(MORE: Don’t Knock the Polar Vortex: It Could Help You Lose Weight)

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45,247 other followers