Baby, It's Cold Outside

You may want to rethink "bundling up" every time you take the dog out this winter...

Cold exposure hormesis refers to the idea that exposure to cold stress, within a certain range and duration, can induce beneficial adaptations in the body. Hormesis is a biological phenomenon where a mild stressor or toxin induces a positive response, leading to improved health and resilience. In the context of cold exposure, the stressor is the cold temperature, and the body responds by activating various physiological mechanisms to cope with the stress.

Here are some key points related to cold exposure hormesis:

  1. Activation of Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT): Cold exposure can stimulate the activation of brown adipose tissue, which is a type of fat tissue that generates heat by burning calories. This process, known as thermogenesis, can contribute to weight management and metabolic health.

  2. Increased Caloric Expenditure: Cold exposure may lead to an increase in energy expenditure as the body works harder to maintain its core temperature. This can potentially aid in weight loss and improve metabolic health.

  3. Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Some studies suggest that regular exposure to cold temperatures may improve insulin sensitivity, which is beneficial for blood sugar control and can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

  4. Enhanced Cardiovascular Function: Cold exposure has been associated with improvements in cardiovascular function, such as increased circulation and improved vascular health. This can contribute to overall cardiovascular fitness.

  5. Strengthening the Immune System: Cold exposure may stimulate the immune system, leading to an increase in the production of certain immune cells. This heightened immune response may enhance the body's ability to fight off infections.

  6. Adaptation to Stress: Regular exposure to cold stress may induce adaptive responses in the body, making it more resilient to various forms of stress. This concept is part of the broader idea of hormesis, where the body becomes stronger when exposed to moderate stressors.

  7. Cognitive Benefits: Some research suggests that cold exposure may have cognitive benefits, such as improved focus and alertness. Cold showers, for example, are reported to have a stimulating effect on the nervous system.

It's important to note that while there is evidence supporting the potential benefits of cold exposure hormesis, individual responses may vary. Additionally, it's crucial to approach cold exposure safely and gradually, especially for individuals with certain health conditions.

***Before incorporating cold exposure into your routine, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, particularly if you have pre-existing health concerns.***

For more information on Cold Exposure, check out Dr. Ben Bikman's article

And check out Neisha's Cold Plunge Experience:

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Are you Walking Properly ?!?!?!

Ok, gang...  time for a personal update to my own Movement Journey.
Several months ago I began an experiment/corrective action to address some irritation in my right hip area. The backstory: about 3 yrs ago, during a home move, I am pretty darn sure that "Tarzan" here took a bad step while carrying a much-too-heavy box...the equivalent of stepping off of a curb that you didn't see with an extra 60-70 lbs in your hand. (OUCH!) Of course, Tarzan just shook it off.
 That led to 2 yrs of inadvertent & wrongful compensation...the result being a favored & over-trained left leg, and wimpy, occasionally achy right leg and hip...and a pronounced right femur exterior rotation.

Without getting too deep in the weeds, it may affect the piroformus, and/or possibly the quads.  (My PCP is has a specialty in sport medicine, and I will see him in a few weeks).

So my research led me to another potential, yet seemingly unrelated, improper walking gait. Thus began my experiment.

After 49 years, I came to realize that I needed to learn how to walk properly!  The Conventional Wisdom of walking heel-to-toe is in reality as UNnatural as a golf swing!!
So I did a LOT of reading, studied a LOT of videos, looked up several podiatrists & other experts on foot/gait issues (including professional athletes).
I came to realize (and fall in love with) a "forefoot strike" walking style, much the same as our ancestors.

I bought my first pair of "barefoot/minimalist/zero-drop" shoes, and began the slow process of transitioning from a heel-to-toe gait cycle to a forefoot strike.

Two and a half months later: I have fully embraced this style of walking (and jogging & running), and have already noticed improvements in my feet, ankles, shins, calves, quads, hamstrings, back, and yes, hips, too.  (My hip concern hasn't fully resolved, but I believe that a forefoot gait cycle has definitely made an improvement).   AND...this walking style trains your feet and gait for actual barefoot walking (for real, as in "no shoes"), allowing for more opportunities for "grounding" (we can talk about that later).

So , here are some great resources to help you out, should you want to investigate the benefits of a proper gait cycle on your own!
Bob & Brad are licensed physical therapists that the PHD Community uses as a trusted resource for PT references. Through that, I found Grown & Healthy, and he REALLY does many deep-dives into the ergonomics of the foot (grab a notebook!) Both are great YouTube channels that I, personally, recommend as well.

There are, of course, arguments for a heel-to-toe gait cycle, as well. I found the evidence for forefoot strike gait overwhelmingly more convincing...but do your own homework, and come to your own conclusion.


*******UPDATE:  The root cause was from a childhood condition called Legg-Calves-Perthes disease which alters the growth and formation of the femoral head. Much traction and therapy was done back then, but it has proven to be the "gift that keeps giving", and I received a shiny, new hip in December 2023.   That said, MODIFYING MY GAIT HAS ALREADY MADE A HUGE IMPROVEMENT ON JOINT & BACK I am firmly committed to continuing with a fore/mid-foot strike gait.

Enjoy!  Leave feedback in the comments!
#Walking #Gait #Movement

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