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

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid