Can cold showers, winter plunges, and brisk walks in the chilly outdoors provide some of the same benefits as intense exercise—including weight loss and increased energy levels? Such a link has been suspected, because cold exposure is known to convert metabolically docile white adipose tissue (WAT) into metabolically active brown adipose tissue (BAT). This “brown fat” helps you stay warmer and burn more energy. But now there is some evidence that cold exposure doesn’t merely help you turn up your inner furnace, and burn off a little fat in the short term. It may actually lower your body’s weight set point by activating a hormone that is also released during intense exercise.
That hormone is irisin (pronounced “EYE-rissin”), a cytokine produced in skeletal muscle. From the initial evidence, irisin and its partner hormone FGF21 may provide lasting benefits by boosting your metabolism and inducing you to shed excess pounds. Read More