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Working Out in This Weather Can Burn More Fat, Study Finds

This one change to your workout routine could be the ticket to losing more weight.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan

Everyone has their personal preferences when it comes to exercise. Some people love the intimacy and camaraderie of working out in a gym, while others enjoy the beauty and stimulation exercising in an outdoor environment can provide. However, a new study says that if you're eager to significantly boost your fat-burning potential, working out in one particular environment can help you shed those extra pounds fast. Read on to discover the specific type of weather that could help you burn more fat. And if you want to get healthier fast, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

Working out in a cold environment may improve your body's thermoregulation.

woman in robe getting into pool on cold day in winter
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A new study published in Cell Reports Medicine reveals that exercising in a cold environment may increase your body's ability to adapt to cold or warm temperatures.

To come to this conclusion, researchers from the University of Copenhagen studied eight young male swimmers who routinely swam in cold weather, followed by sessions in a sauna over a minimum of two years and a control group who did not swim in cold weather or use temperature-specific therapies. What the researchers discovered was that the cold weather swimmers were better at adapting to changes in temperature in their environment. "We expected winter swimmers to have more brown fat than the control subjects, but it turned out that they instead had better thermoregulation," explained Susanna Søberg, PhD, the study's lead author, in a statement.

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Cold environments can help boost your fat-burning potential, too.

mother and cute daughter walking and holding red cups between trees and looking at snow in snowy forest
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In one experiment, the study's researchers had both control and experimental groups keep their hand in cold water for three minutes. In doing so, they found that the cold weather swimmers maintained a higher skin temperature and saw smaller elevations in their pulse and blood pressure in comparison to members of the control group.

The researchers also found that, when exposed to cold temperatures, both groups had increased activation of their brown fat tissue, a type of healthy adipose tissue that can burn fat, but the regular cold weather swimmers expended more energy.

"Winter swimmers burned more calories than control subjects during cooling, possibly in part due to higher heat production," explained senior study author Camilla Scheele, PhD, an associate professor at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research at the University of Copenhagen.

Brown fat may also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Portrait Of A Mature Man Having Heart Attack
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Brown fat has more tricks up its sleeve than just increasing your body's fat-burning potential, however.

A 2021 study published in Nature Medicine found that individuals with brown fat stores had lower rates of heart disease, and that brown fat was associated with lower rates of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, cerebrovascular disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes, as well.

Just a few hours in cooler than normal temperatures may increase your fat burn.

woman weighing herself overweight on scale
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Even if swimming in a cold pool doesn't appeal to you, you may be able to increase your fat-burning ability by increasing brown fat in a more temperate environment.

According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, individuals exposed to 66.2-degree Fahrenheit temperatures for just two hours a day increased their energy expenditure, and just two hours a day exposed to temperatures of 62.6 degrees Fahrenheit over six weeks increased brown fat activity and was associated with weight loss.

For more great additions to your workout routine, This is The Best Way to Instantly Improve Your Workout Performance, New Study Says, and for the latest health and fitness news delivered to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter!

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Sarah Crow
Sarah Crow is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, where she focuses on celebrity news and health coverage. Read more
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