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Indoor temperature variation may yield health benefits: study

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Oxford, England – Are people at your workplace constantly engaged in a battle to control the thermostat? A new study from researchers in the Netherlands finds that feeling a bit too warm or too cold while indoors actually may have health benefits.

The researchers, led by Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt, professor of Ecological Energetics and Health at Maastricht University in Maastrich, determined that indoor exposure to mild warmth and coldness carries benefits for type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular health. For example, people with Type 2 diabetes exposed to 10 days of intermittent cool temperatures experienced enhanced glucose metabolism that increased insulin sensitivity by more than 40 percent. According to the researchers, that response is “comparable with the best pharmaceutical solutions available.”

“It has previously been assumed that stable fixed indoor temperatures would satisfy comfort and health in most people,” Lichtenbelt said in a press release. “However, this research indicates that mild cold and variable temperatures may have a positive effect on our health.”

The researchers say their findings support further research into the possible merits of varying office temperatures from typical levels of 69.8° F to 71.6° F.

The study was published online April 25 in the journal Building Research & Information.

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