Instead of complaining about the hot summer afternoon or the cold winter morning, how can you benefit from them so that you see the evening sunset and night stars for more than a hundred years? Here is my gentle introduction to hyp*thermic condition for you. I include protocols for those who think they have limited financial wealth and those who want to lower their carbon footprint.
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What is the * in Hyp*thermic?
Global Humans – Historical
De-evolution – Recent
The Temperature Map
Hormesis and Heat (or Cold)
Benefits through Proteins
The Methods – No Madness
PuruSafety with Progression
PuruHelp the Planet
PuruBreathing for the Cold
PuruHydration for the Heat
PuruLive in a Hot Place
PuruLive in a Cool Place
PuruWeekdays vs Weekends
What is the * in Hyp*thermic? [top]
Excessively uncomfortable temperatures are what we are focusing on. So, hot i.e. hyperthermic and cold i.e. hypothermic.
Global Humans – Historical [top]
Humans have spread around the globe to inhabit what covers most of the temperature variation on the earth’s land surface. Other than the very extremes of the poles and some of the hottest deserts, there are local populations in places where the temperature goes below 0°C (32°F) or above 45°C (113°F) on many days of the year.
The vast majority of the earth’s human population lives in less extreme temperatures.
For most of human history, mankind has used what was naturally available and locally for protection against extreme heat and cold. Homes were built with locally available material. Clothing was made from animals and plants providing additional protection against weather variation indoors and outdoors. In addition to this, we have the necessary code in our DNA to adjust over a few weeks to changes in weather if we have to move to a part of the world where the weather is different from what we were used to.
De-evolution – Recent [top]
With industrialization, the creation of thousands of urban centres around the world with automatic access to fuel to heat and cool our homes, you and I are able to control the temperature of where we are. Home, car, gym, office, train, bus, taxi, restaurant, all temperature controlled. Hot water in our showers, even our swimming pools are heated for our comfort in the winter.
This has made us soft. This has made us feel troubled when we are not in a “comfortable temperature”. This has made us feel unhappy about being in physical discomfort.
We have seen the problems globally from having less sun exposure with our modern lifestyles. That is a fact.
Are we facing problems with almost never being exposed to extreme temperatures our ancestors evolved through on a routine basis? Perhaps.
Could we be doing better by exposing ourselves naturally to those harsh temperatures? Definitely!
The Temperature Map [top]
Hormesis and Heat (or Cold) [top]
When I told you about Hormesis, Your Best Friend there was a mention of environmental conditions as one of the many ways to provide eustress to yourself. By placing yourself in stressful temperatures for controlled periods of time, you can benefit from the automatic physical transformation that your body will go through from that exposure. The benefits will go beyond your physical health. And if you are smart about it, beyond you, to your planet.
Benefits through Proteins [top]
One of the pathways through which you benefit from these shocks is related to specific proteins that are found in you, all other animals and even bacteria – called Heat Shock Proteins. They are a family of proteins that are produced by cells in response to exposure to stressful conditions. They were first discovered in relation to heat exposure and the name has stuck on, but these useful proteins do their job when you face any kind of physical stress, including through your environment e.g. cold temperatures or UV light. They perform many useful roles within your body that include processes related to:
*Repair of Mis-folded
*Repair of Damaged Proteins
*Increased Immune Response
*Reduction Of Free Radicals
*Faster Muscle Recovery
*Biological Age Reduction
*Prevention Of Neurological Diseases
Experiential Benefits [top]
If you go through the science, you will read and learn how controlled exposure to temperature extremes can be beneficial to you physically – e.g. production of testosterone and human growth hormone, or inhibiting processes like apoptosis. There is also an immediate emotional benefit to experience – a feeling of well-being similar to what might be called a runner’s high. So, even without running a long-enough distance to experience a similar high, you could experience it by immersing yourself in high temperatures (or a sauna). Yes, you will have to accept that it will be physically uncomfortable at first with the perspiration.
Beyond the time of the exposure and for the hours immediately after it, you will have other benefits – including for the planet. Once your physiology changes so that you are automatically more tolerant of slightly warmer weather or colder weather, you will be able to live your day burning less fuel for heating or cooling your room (or car). You will be very happy to go to places when others find it unsuitable in terms of temperatures! Imagine that – fewer tourists coming in your way!
THE METHODS – No Madness [top]
Simple Principal: At its core, the method is quite simple. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. So, step outside your comfort zone. If you have made yourself soft by almost never or very rarely exposing yourself to uncomfortable temperatures – then start with doing just that on a daily basis. Yes, you have to be wise and seek pain at times, not avoid it at all times. [top]
Safety with Progression: Whatever you do must not be extreme to the point of danger. The hormetic response to the beneficial level of stress will come to you when you are pushing yourself only a sensible amount out of your comfort zone. If you come across a report of me running in 47°C you must assume that I built up to it in a prudent manner. Similarly, when you hear that I ran in 1°C wearing only shorts and shoes, you must assume that I was appropriately prepared for it [watch]. It is extremely important that you chalk out your own path based on your conditioning on the day – do not be in a rush – when unsure, always do less, not more! [top]
Help the Planet: My greatgrandchildren will not care how antifragile I am or how much fitter you can become. They will care that we left the planet with a minimum carbon footprint. So, look for stresses that are local. Don’t fly to another part of the world just so you can post on social media that you soaked in an ice bath in the Netherlands or ran a race in a desert. If you happen to have extreme temperatures when you are anyway on holiday somewhere then I insist you expose yourself to it (see Safety).
Every drop matters! If you can reduce your need for heated water or cooled rooms by even 1% you will contribute to the difference you can make for the planet’s future. By being equally comfortable with the heater at a lower setting or the cooler at a higher setting by even 1°C you will help your planet. [top]
Breathing for the Cold: If you want to adjust your biochemistry within a few minutes (6-20 mins depending on how you do it) you should educate yourself on sympathetic nervous system activation using Tummo Breathing. [top]
Hydration for the Heat: Dry fasting, including being dehydrated when in a hot environment, can also be beneficial when done right. As my safety warning mentions, don’t be foolish and progress faster than you should. Neither I nor the ambulance paramedics are responsible for your health. You can be doing a lot more than you are right now, but you must proceed in safe increments. When starting off in the heat, ensure you are well hydrated and are not low on salts. [top]
Cold Showers: No matter where you live, you should be able to shower such that it is in cold water at least for a few seconds. And if you live in a place like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or Mumbai – it is criminal to shower in hot water on any day of the year. (See Help the Planet.) If you progress slowly, no matter where you live, Toronto or Tamil Nadu, you should be able to have more and of your shower in cold water eventually. [top]
Live in a Hot Place: If you live in a place that has very hot days, I am not saying that you should work, eat or sleep in a pool of sweat. But do give yourself the benefits of extreme heat exposure that you can get for free! (see Sun Exposure and Cold Showers) [top]
Live in a Cool Place: If you live in a place that has very cold winter days, don’t shiver at home if you can dress appropriately and have your central heating on for a while. But do make it a point to give yourself the benefits of the cold with minimal clothing a few times a week! (see Cold Showers) [top]
Sun Exposure: You may not be able to go out in the hot sun on a business day for more than the good health pill from the sun that I have spoken about. To the extent that you can do your weekend sports activities in the hot sun, you should. [top]
Maxing Out: You might be keen to use your time efficiently to max your ROTI like I do. In that case, like me, you too may want to run in the hot summer sun, in a fasted state, and perhaps after a quick intense strength training session. Do that 2-3 times a week and you’ll spend very little time being very fit and won’t fall ill with unexpected disturbances to your schedule or lifestyle. [top]
Saunas: If you have access to a sauna, use it, but beware of the fuel cost. (also see Sperm Quality)
Although saunas, popular in homes in Finland, have been improving the Healthspans of the Finnish people, it would be environmentally better for them to take advantage of their cold instead. [top]
Sperm Quality: If you are a man trying to have a child, be careful of extreme heat exposure, especially saunas. Give the extreme heat a break for a few months until a pregnancy is confirmed. [top]
Sleep: There is an ideal temperature range for sleep, we are told it is between 16°-18°C. As sleep is more important for you than food or exercise, forgive yourself for burning fuel to get better sleep. But please don’t be someone who turns on the air-conditioning to make the room cold, but then covers themself in layers to keep warm. And, if you have nights that are cold and quiet, use an open window or ventilator to keep your room cool while burning less fuel. [top]
Weekdays vs Weekends: Perhaps on a business day you are not able to manage the time to get the extreme weather exposure that is local to you. But, on weekends at least, try to give yourself a shock. Over time you will be glad you have been accidentally wise and doing so. [top]
Parting Message [top]
I am not a Fitness Freak. There is no point being alive for a long time but not actually live. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Get uncomfortable today!
Dr Purnendu Nath spends his waking hours focusing on helping individuals and organizations reach their goals, to make the world a better place. He speaks, writes and advises on topics such as finance, investment management, discipline, education, self-improvement, exercise, nutrition, health and fitness, leadership and parenting.
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