It’s widely believed that exposure to cold temperatures can cause a substantial increase in the number of calories burned by the body. It has even been claimed that exposure to cold weather increases metabolic rate more than exercise. Is this true?
Yes! Cold exposure will cause an additional number of calories to be burned. However, you will not burn more than if you were exercising in the cold. Exercise such as running or cycling in the cold weather is typically associated with a more significant number of calories burned per minute than when it’s warm outside, but this only occurs when there is an ENERGY EXPENDITURE ADDITIONAL TO THAT CAUSED BY THE COLD.
When you exercise in cold weather, the energy needed to stay warm becomes a factor and adds to the total number of calories burned by increasing your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). But when you are exposed to the cold without any additional energy expenditure from exercise-like activities, your body will burn more calories due to the cold stimuli alone. What’s even more interesting is that, as you acclimate to the cold, your body will burn a greater number of calories without any increase in metabolic rate. This means that if you go from being someone who hates cold weather but are forced to be outside in it for extended periods (like when camping or hiking); your body will adjust to the cold and begin burning more calories, even though you’re completely stationary.
That is due to two things:
- When you first go into the cold, your skin cools rapidly because it loses heat to its surroundings very easily. As your skin cools, the blood vessels in that area will contract to prevent further cooling. But, when the blood vessels contract, this reduces blood flow and thus reduces the amount of heat transferred to your skin from your body’s core (where most of our heat is generated). By reducing how much heat is transferred to the skin, you are essentially reducing the rate at which you cool down. This means that your body must now generate more heat to compensate for this reduction in heat loss, and thus you will burn a few extra calories.
- When you first go into the cold, your muscles work harder to move against the resistance caused by the cold (i.e., wind chill), which means that they are contracting more frequently than usual. This increased muscle activity uses energy and thus increases calorie expenditure.
But please note that when you exercise in the cold, your body will still need to generate heat to keep you warm, and this can sometimes cause a slight decrease in calories burned until your skin adjusts to the colder temperature. Your body does this by burning more fat and/or glycogen.
In conclusion, being exposed to cold temperatures alone can increase the number of calories burned by about five percent above resting levels. In addition, as you acclimate to the cold, your body will begin to burn a more significant number of calories at rest without any increase in metabolic rate. As always, though, this calorie increase will vary depending on the person.
Why do we care about burned calories?
There are several reasons why you want to track calories burned. The main reason is weight loss. If you’re trying to lose weight, knowing how many additional calories your body is burning due to cold weather can help you estimate how much weight you expect to lose. Another reason is that you’re exercising in cold weather and want to know how many more calories your body is burning compared to exercising in warm conditions.
If you’re a person who hates cold weather, this might make it seem like those extra layers of clothing you put on before going outside really aren’t as bad as you thought. While the number of actual calories burned might be small, all of those little pieces still add up over time!
This also matters because when you exercise in cold weather, there is a potential for frostbite or hypothermia if precautions aren’t taken. The reason for this is that the body must generate heat to compensate for the loss of heat through conduction and convection, making it difficult for your body to maintain a normal temperature.
To prevent this, it is important to dress warmly to reduce the risk of hypothermia or frostbite. It means dressing in layers with materials that can retain heat even when wet (i.e., wool). A quality winter jacket is also of most importance. Remember, though, not to exercise outside in temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit) and only exercise for a short time when it’s extremely cold. Exercising in the cold can be fun if you have the proper clothing but always remember to take the precautions needed to ensure your safety!
How to count calories burned?
The easiest way to track how many calories you burn from being exposed to cold is by using a wearable fitness tracker. These can be found from most major retailers and should use either an accelerometer or skin temperature sensors to determine the intensity of your workout. This information should then correlate to a certain number of calories burned according to their website’s algorithm.
Best affordable fitness trackers for calories burned in the cold
Below is a list of fitness trackers that offer the most comprehensive calorie tracking for activities done in cold weather. To be mentioned, the fitness tracker must be affordable, have a heart rate monitor, and be able to track calories burned in cold weather.
PUBU Fitness Tracker
The PUBU fitness tracker is a very affordable device that has been designed to track your activity levels no matter what you’re doing. It can be used for swimming, walking, running, and even golfing! This makes it the perfect companion for anyone who wants to track their calorie burn in cold weather conditions.
It counts steps taken, calories burned, and distance traveled. This information is then displayed on their companion app that can be downloaded onto either Android or iOS devices.
The device also measures your heart rate and distinguishes between activity types. This helps you to understand better if the increased calorie burn was due to exercising or just through normal day-to-day activities.
WAFA Fitness Tracker
WAFA is another affordable fitness tracker that has the added benefit of tracking your heart rate at all times. This lets you know how your body reacts while exercising in cold weather conditions.
It counts steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, and tracks your heart rate. It’s also equipped with an IP67 rating, so it can withstand being submerged in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes without any operational problems! This makes it a great companion for swimmers who want to track their calorie burn while swimming laps.
The device syncs with either Android or iOS devices and can be downloaded onto them.
DoSmarter Fitness Tracker
The DoSmarter fitness tracker is very similar to the PUBU device in the sense that it’s also equally affordable, has a heart rate monitor, tracks multiple activities, and can track your calorie burn while exercising in cold weather conditions.
The biggest difference between these devices is their designs. The PUBU fitness tracker looks more like a watch, while the DoSmarter is more of a bracelet. Both also have pretty much the same features and operate in a similar fashion.
It counts steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, and tracks your heart rate. It syncs with Android or iOS devices can be downloaded onto them to view your daily progress.
MorePro Fitness Tracker
The MorePro fitness tracker is a bit more expensive than all the others listed, but it should be mentioned that this fitness tracker is regularly discounted on Amazon.
The MorePro fitness tracker makes it a great companion for outdoor enthusiasts who want a more comprehensive look at their overall activity levels throughout the day. It has a heart rate monitor, tracks multiple activities, and can even track your calorie burn while exercising in cold weather conditions. It also provides you with an analysis of your sleeping habits.
HalfSun Fitness Tracker
The HalfSun fitness tracker is another affordable option for anyone looking for an inexpensive device to track their daily activity levels. It’s also equipped with a heart rate monitor and can even measure the number of calories you’ve burned while exercising in cold weather conditions.
The biggest difference between this device and all the others listed here is that it does not use Bluetooth to sync your data. This means it has to be done through the device itself and isn’t quite as convenient. However, many users have found this not to be a problem since all their daily activity information gets synced automatically every time they get up from sitting down.
Final word on burning calories in the cold
It’s important to note that many factors come into play when trying to measure the exact amount of calories burned while working out. For instance, if your heart rate isn’t being calculated during exercise, it’s impossible to tell precisely how many calories have been burned.
Even if your heart rate is being tracked, it’s still challenging to measure since many activities can vary widely from person to person.
To get a more accurate measurement of how many calories have been burned, you need to either do the activity at a constant rate or estimate how long it took you to complete the activity. Additionally, if your device is equipped with a heart rate monitor, that will give you a much better idea of how many calories were burned and more accurate results.