Dec. 6 2016 06:00 AM

    Colder temperatures just might be good for us.

    Winter is here in Minnesota and that means I’ve been digging winter clothes out of storage . . . snow pants for the kids and calf coats for the calves. But I left my long underwear in storage. And there’s good reason for that choice.

    We all know kids and calves need to be kept warm. When calves are cold, they burn calories to stay warm instead of using that energy to grow and support their immune systems.

    That’s why we put calf coats on them in the winter. We also make sure they have lots of extra straw to nestle into.

    But what if you’re not a 100-pound calf trying to gain 2 pounds a day?

    What if you’re a fully-grown human trying to maintain your weight . . . especially during this season of dinner parties and holiday cookie trays?

    It turns out that for us humans, shivering and exposure to colder temperatures might actually be beneficial.

    “Shivering for about 10 to 15 minutes had similar hormonal effects as did an hour of moderate exercise,” according to a blurb I read in a recent issue of Reader’s Digest.

    The statement caught my attention. Since I work outside most of the day, I have lots of opportunities to be cold and to shiver. However, I don’t have a lot of time for exercise.

    So I did a little research to learn more. The study in humans about adaptive thermogenesis (all of the chemical reactions that take place inside our bodies when we’re cold) is a couple years old now, but it’s still very interesting.

    “[We have to see] whether it's possible to use this discovery for weight loss, or to maintain weight loss. But it's a promising pathway to look at, just from the substantial improvement of metabolism. [That could help with] diabetes [and obesity and other metabolic disorders],” the study’s author said.

    It was enough to convince me to leave my long underwear in the storage tote and embrace the cold for as long as I can.


    The author is a dairy farmer and writer from central Minnesota. She farms with her husband, Glen, and their three children. Sadie grew up on a dairy farm in northern Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in agricultural communications and marketing. She also blogs at Dairy Good Life.