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Drop the Thermostat and Shed Some Weight

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Weight Loss related image Photo: Getty Images

Women are all about shortcuts to weight loss, and rightfully so! We’re all searching for the secret to an eternally slim waistline. We’ll buy the most confounded contraptions, cut out carbs from our diets completely, or heck, we’d probably kiss a moose while blindfolded wearing red high heels in a bikini if we were told it would help us lose weight.

The latest trick to try, turns out, requires very little effort on our part.

Turn down your thermostat.

Scientists break it down for us simply—when we’re exposed to extreme cold, we shiver. Shivering is an involuntary reaction that makes our skeletal muscles contract to generate heat, burning extra calories in the process.

They proceed to inform us that even in mildly cold temperatures—say, the temperature it could be in your house if you turned your thermostat down a few degrees—your body still works harder to heat itself up and thus, burns more calories without you even thinking about it.

The team of British researchers who studied this included scientists from several disciplines including health psychologists, biologists and those who specialize in the effects of indoor environments. The study was published in late January, 2011 in the journal Obesity Reviews.

This team claims thermostats are contributing to increasing obesity.
Researchers call the process of heating our bodies up non-shivering thermogenesis. They say it may involve a substance called brown fat that acts as a furnace inside our bodies, consuming calories and giving off heat.

Adults carry brown fat in certain areas such as the upper back and the sides of our neck. Once the brown fat is activated, which is done by exposure to cold temperatures, it burns calories and produces heat.

According to the New York Times report, “The researchers found that since central heating became commonplace in the 1960s, room temperatures have increased slowly but steadily in both the United States and Britain. In both countries, obesity has also been on the rise.”

“In the United States, living rooms have long been heated to just over 70 degrees in the winter, at least when the house is occupied.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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