The New York Times had a really interesting article this week titled, “Shivering as Form of Exercise.” Apparently, researchers found that shivering can have similar impacts as moderate exercise can on altering fat muscles and increasing metabolism. The study mentioned in the article found that after similar time periods of shivering and of exercising, similar levels of irisin were found in study participants.
Irisin is a hormone that helps to convert bad fat into brown fat. Brown fat, if you’ve never heard of it, is found mostly in babies and helps to generate heat. A higher percentage of brown fat to regular fat is ideal, but not common in most adults. Scientists actually used to think that adults did not have brown fat, but recent studies have suggested otherwise. In fact, studies have shown that adults who produce higher levels of irisin, tend to have higher levels of brown fat than in their counterparts.
For a period, scientists thought that irisin was best produced during exercise where the contracting muscles help to stimulate the production of the hormone. This new study shows, however, that irisin can be produced while you’re freezing, which is convenient, since we seem to be getting a polar vortex every day.
Shivering should not replace cardiovascular exercise and should be considered with caution. Waiting outside in the cold for the bus or the train is probably enough. You probably shouldn’t force yourself to freeze just to produce more lisin, but as always, I’m not a doctor, so if you’re looking to make more lisin by shivering, you should probably have a chat with a licensed physician.
So, any thoughts on this article? Are you going to add “shivering” into your exercise routine?