Effect of acute cold exposure on resting metabolic rate in humans




Stelly, Steven Philip

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Purpose: This study evaluated whole body resting energy expenditure before, during, and following acute cold exposure to quantify shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis. Hypothesis: It was hypothesized that energy expenditure (EE) during, and immediately following cold exposure and cessation of shivering would be increased from baseline. Methods: Fifteen subjects were exposed to 40 min of thermoneutral (38°C) water, followed by 30 min of cold (10°C) water, followed by 120 min of thermoneutral (38°C) water. Throughout the experiment, subjects' expired air was measured continuously, and EE was determined via indirect calorimetry. Results: EE was found to be significantly higher than baseline during cold exposure (1.19 ± 0.21 vs. 2.30 ± 0.94 kcal/min; p <0.01) and immediately following cold exposure and cessation of shivering (1.19 ± 0.21 vs. 1.37 ± 0.25 kcal/min; p <0.05). Conclusion: The findings support the hypothesis and provide support for the increased EE during cold exposure being due to both shivering and non-shivering thermogenesis, and the increased EE immediately following cold exposure being due to non-shivering thermogenesis. Based on the results of this study non-shivering thermogenesis appears to contribute ~15% to total cold induced changes in EE.


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Health and environmental sciences, Cold exposure, Energy expenditure



Health and Kinesiology