“By adapting to the outside temperature, you become more able-bodied”

“By adapting to the outside temperature, you become more able-bodied”

Heating in UM buildings two degrees lower


MAASTRICHT. Maastricht University is also turning the thermostat down. In the framework of the national ‘Turn the switch too’ project, the heating will be lowered two degrees from Tuesday 19 April. In the summer, on the other hand, the temperature will rise. Buildings with air conditioning will be cooled less.

Good for the purse and to be less dependent on Russian gas, but also good for one’s health, says Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, professor of Ecological Energetics and Health. He has been doing research for years into the effect of cold and heat on the body. What did it show? A little shivering is not so bad. “The metabolism rises, the sugar levels improve, blood flow to the heart and the blood vessels is better. All-in-all, the body is working harder and that is healthy.”

In a recent study, Van Marken Lichtenbelt and his colleagues had test subjects be exposed to mild cold a couple of hours a day. “We saw that this causes a structural change in the membrane of muscles. Now we are looking into if this is mainly caused by shivering.” The fact is that shivering is uncomfortable and to do so it has to be considerably colder than the 19 degrees that will now be prevalent in the UM buildings. “But even with milder temperatures, we see people using their muscles more intensively.”

It also appeared that it wasn’t just the cold that had a favourable effect on the body. “In research into the influence of heat on the sugar levels, there were also improvements. So, it would appear that the variation in temperature is important.” Instead of setting a constant indoor temperature, we should therefore fluctuate more in accordance with the outdoor temperature. “Leave the thermostat alone every now and then. You will become more able-bodied. It takes around 1-2 weeks to get used to more cold or heat, but the more often you are exposed, the quicker you get used to it. This will also make you better able to deal with extremes, which – thanks climate change – we will have more often. Don’t forget we can take a lot. Not too long ago, people thought that 13-15 degrees inside was acceptable. You do have to dress accordingly, though, but the heating can be set quite a bit lower.”

One marginal note: “There are great individual differences. Women have less muscle mass and because of this often feel the cold more than men; the same goes for the elderly and those who are ill. So, talk to your housemates before you lower the heating to 15 degrees.”

Author: Cleo Freriks

Photo: Shutterstock

Tags: heating.airco,russia,gas,electricity.bill,health,research,marken lichtenbelt

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