Exposing yourself to extreme temperatures is known to boost metabolism, either from the heat raising your core temperature or when shivering in the cold helps generating heat and causing an increase in brown fat stores.
Now, science suggests that variations in inside temperatures could also have a positive effect on our metabolism and lower the risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity, according to new research published in Building Research & Information.
For the review, scientists investigated previous studies and research on how climate affects bodily functions. They proposed that by making the temperatures inside our homes and offices fluctuate on a dynamic scale beyond the normal 70°, simply living and working in our buildings could offer us health benefits. One specific study they point to showed that when people with diabetes were exposed to mild, intermittent cold for 10 days, their insulin sensitivity increased by 43%.
The researchers note that making our bodies experience temperature fluctuation beyond our normal thermal comfort zone eventually helps it acclimatize to the changes, making the dynamic changes feel more comfortable. And extreme temperatures can also become pleasant, a phenomenon called thermal alliesthesia.
"It has previously been assumed that stable fixed indoor temperatures would satisfy comfort and health in most people,” said lead author Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, Ph.D., professor of ecological energetics and health at Maastricht University in the Netherlands. “However, this research indicates that mild cold and variable temperatures may have a positive effect on our health, and at the same time are acceptable or even may create pleasure."