Once the cold weather comes around, it’s a lot more tempting to cozy up on your couch than to head outside for a run in the frosty air. However, if you need some motivation, you’ll be pleased to learn that working out in cold weather can actually help you burn more calories. That’s right—chilly temperatures can change the unwanted fat in your body into a better type of fat that helps you shed pounds.
There are different types of fat in our bodies, including white and brown. White fat is the unwanted body fat we normally think of, while brown fat burns energy and produces heat, and can help you lose weight. Not only does the cold make your brown fat more active, recent research has shown that exposing our bodies to cold temperatures can help burn white fat and grow more brown fat.
Because brown fat burns energy to keep us warm, it can help with weight control. A study from the journal Molecular Cell found that exposure to chilly air boosts levels of a protein called transcription factor Zfp516. This protein is responsible for making the white fat in our bodies more similar to brown fat in its ability to burn calories. The research found that mice with boosted levels of the Zfp516 protein gained 30 percent less weight than control mice when both groups were fed a high-fat diet.
As long as you are staying safe by wearing the appropriate cold-weather gear and watching out for any slippery pavement, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t keep up your outdoor workout routine this winter. In fact, it will help you burn off those holiday calories much more effectively than a trip to your heated gym.