News / Health

Shivering Activates Fat-Burning Hormone

Shivering Could Help Burn Body Fati
X
February 12, 2014 8:38 PM
Polar temperatures are keeping the northern hemisphere in a deep freeze, with cold blasts from the Arctic setting record lows for this century. But as VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, a new study finds that all that cold air may actually be good for your health.
Rosanne Skirble
It is so cold in Chicago that people are warned to stay indoors.  With a fourth straight month of snow storms and below normal temperatures, Chicago native Paige Worthy says it is the worst winter she can remember.    

“It actually hurts to breathe in because the air is so cold that I actually have to cover my mouth with a scarf to keep my lungs from hurting,” Worthy said.  

And it seems that no matter how many layers of clothes they put on, everyone is shivering.

That involuntary reflex is the focus of a new study in Cell Metabolism. It finds that shivering triggers the body to release a natural hormone called irisin, which activates brown fat, the good fat in your body that burns calories and promotes weight loss. Irisin also plays another important role.  

“Indeed the purpose of brown fat is maintaining the core temperature, so the temperature of the body whereby all the vital functions can be active and normal,” said lead author Francesco Celi of Virginia Commonwealth University.   

Celi worked with a team at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). They already knew the body produces irisin when we exercise and hypothesized that shivering, which like exercising also makes muscles contract, evolved as a survival mechanism in response to cold.   

“This is the last ditch before going into hypothermia and having severe metabolic and life threatening consequences," Celi said. "Now, an hypothesis is only an hypothesis until you prove it.”

Volunteers were recruited to test hormonal changes and energy expenditure with both exercise, and also while lying under cooling blankets where temperatures were gradually reduced to 12 degrees Celsius.  

“Most of our volunteers shivered at that time and the shivering was anywhere between five and 10 minutes, not more," Celi said. "And, again, we drew blood before and after the study.”  

The volunteers' bodies produced irisin, but with some surprises.   

“The amount of increase in irisin was almost identical to what we observed after one hour of exercise," Celi said, "which validated the initial hypothesis, whereby the maximum stimulation of irisin is probably shivering.”  

Understanding how irisin activates brown fat, and consequently the burning of calories, could lead to new drugs to fight diabetes or obesity.

"It is a short term effect. We do not know yet the long term consequences of these interventions," Celi said. "So, studies need to be performed to address this very question. We do not know if this is advantageous, which individuals would be more able to gain from intervention.”
 
Back in Chicago, Paige Worthy says while she is glad to know that shivering may have a physical benefit, as a fitness trainer she is cautious about encouraging it.

“As a newly minted new instructor spinning [exercise bike] instructor, I guess I would say that there are risks that go along with every exercise and every weight loss regimen, but this seems like a perilous way to approach weight loss, if it is going to be this cold,” she said.

Celi agrees, adding that it is too early to jump to conclusions. Just because shivering mimics exercise, he says, that does not mean it should replace it.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: John Langston from: Shippensburg, PA
February 13, 2014 9:15 AM
The "Cool Fat Burner" has already proven this in the lab at the University of CA, as verified by indirect calorimetry. They were able to triple metabolism and calorie burn. Here's the video of the whole experiment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sbq9UjTfGbI

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid