Now that winter has hit, those of us who are exercise enthusiasts — or at least trying to be — are forced to do most of our fitness activities outdoors in the cold. And though we suffer through the colder temperatures with the intention of staying fit and healthy, a new study has indicated that perhaps a cold exercise environment might actually be contradicting your diet efforts.
A team of researchers in Scotland and England conducted a study to find out how exercise temperatures affect one’s post-workout appetite. What they found might make you rethink where you opt to workout this winter.
During the first test, participants worked out on a treadmill in a room that was 68 degrees. The same workout was then done in a room that was 46 degrees. After each workout, a blood sample was taken to measure appetite hormones, and a buffet was offered to each of them. Researchers noted what foods the participants chose to eat after the workouts, and found a significant trend in consumption of more calories and carbohydrates after working out in the cold temperatures. The blood samples after the cold workout also showed higher levels of ghrelin, a hormone that triggers hunger, compared to the warmer temperature workout.
The participants were more hungry after working out in the cold, but they had not burned any more calories than when they exercised in warmer temperatures. The reason is because in cold temperatures, blood does not have to circulate to release excess heat, since it is keeping the body warm. Instead, it circulates through the body and distributes biochemicals from the stomach and other organs, which prompts the release of ghrelin. Thus, working out in the cold may actually trigger an urge to reach for a cupcake after an exercise bout, which contradicts your intentions.
So this winter, if you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet without overeating, try to choose exercise activities that you can do indoors. After all, a jog in 40-degree weather isn’t exactly the most pleasant environment anyway.
Read more on the study at New York Times Health.