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Can J Sport Sci. 1992 Jun;17(2):83-90.

Fat metabolism, exercise, and the cold.

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School of Physical & Health Education, University of Toronto, Ontario.


Whereas short-term cold exposure depletes glycogen reserves, repeated and prolonged moderate exercise in a cold environment creates an energy deficit that is satisfied by an increased metabolism of depot fat. Factors contributing to the fat loss include an exercise-induced hypertrophy of lean tissue, a loss of energy through a cold-induced ketonuria, a stimulation of resting metabolism, increases in the energy cost of movement, and a lower yield of energy per litre of oxygen consumed. Biochemical explanations of the enhanced lipolysis include increased catecholamine secretion, altered sensitivity of catecholamine receptors, and decreases of circulating insulin. The enhanced fat loss with combinations of cold and exercise may be helpful in the therapy of obesity, although the response seems less well developed in women than in men. Moreover, there may be other objections to cold exposure in an older obese population. Short-term glycogen depletion has negative implications for the endurance competitor. Cold acclimation, by favoring an insulative response to cold, reduces glycogen depletion; endurance training may supplement this effect by enhancing the activity of fat-metabolizing enzymes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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