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A couple balmy days notwithstanding, as I write this we’re back in the deep freeze. Hat and mittens to walk the dogs in the morning, windshield-scraping, car-warming, and yes, please to that mug of hot coffee. Just another winter in New England. If only all that cold were serving some greater purpose-and it may be! According to an Atlantic article, exposure to cold temperatures may help humans lose weight and maintain weight loss.
This theory originated from the research of Ray Cronise, a former materials science at NASA. During Michael Phelps’ 2008 Olympic gold medal streak, Cronise read that Phelps consumed up to 12,000 calories a day, more than five times the amount needed by an average adult and excessive even for an elite athlete. Cronise, who’d been trying to lose weight, was astonished. Even supposing a vigorous training routine, these numbers just didn’t make sense-until he factored in heat transfer. Phelps was burning all those calories maintaining his core body temperature in the chilly pool water.
Cronise tested his theory with a regimen of cold showers and shirtless winter walks-and lost 26 pounds in 6 weeks. Subsequently, he has come to believe that the developed world’s obesity epidemic is partially caused by temperature control. Most humans exist in a closely-controlled environment. We spend the majority of our time indoors. If the natural temperature strays too far above or below our preferred seventy degrees, we change it. We adapt our environment instead of asking our bodies to adapt to it. We’ve become too comfortable.
While I’m not likely to don an ice vest or advocate shirtless winter walks anytime soon, I can certainly see the advantage of spending more time outside. And luckily, we have a wonderful resource for outside recreation right here on Grove Street! Grab your hat and mittens, throw a leash on the dog, and take a walk on the Southern New England Trunkline Trail, a 22-mile beauty that is one of the longest continuous trails in southern New England.
If you like what you see, consider joining us on Sunday, January 28 from 1-4 PM, when we’re hosting a fundraiser for the Franklin-Bellingham Rail Trail Committee. No cold showers, just lots of good wine and beer, nice people, and a chance to help preserve open space in our region.