Can shivering due to cold weather lead to weight loss? Not exactly. But shivering does trigger a response in muscles of people out in the cold similar to that of exercise, showed research.
The muscles of shivering people triggers the release of a hormone called irisin that activates brown fat - a type of fat found in humans that burns energy to generate heat.
Researchers asked healthy participants to spent an hour exercising and measured their maximum oxygen uptake.
After each bout of exercise, the researchers measured levels of irisin. It turned out that muscle contractions stimulated the release of irisin.
After calculating energy expenditure, the researchers covered the participants with blankets pumped full of cold water.
Most of the participants began shivering.
An hour later, the researchers measured their circulating hormone levels.
“With shivering, we obtained a similar increase in irisin level as maximum exercise, or one hour of exercise, but the amount of energy expenditure was lower than these two types of exercise,” Francesco Celi, an endocrinologist at Richmond-based Virginia Commonwealth University, was quoted as saying.
The study suggests that both shivering and muscle contraction stimulate the release of Irisin then turns on brown fat and allows it to burn energy to produce heat.
Scientists could develop medicines that could increase energy expenditure without requiring people to exercise or shiver, said the study published in the journal Cell Metabolism.