Thursday, December 28, 2017

Baby, it's Cold Outside

Today, December 28, 2017, the temperature in Montclair, NJ, is 12 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s not only below freezing, but it’s also a shock after a beautifully hospitable and warm fall and a mild winter---at least until now.  

So what else is there to do besides drink hot drinks indoors? In fact, I’ve been drinking lots of hot, healthy coffee indoors (and out)---at the ice skating rink, with friends at cafes, alone at home, and at the office (of course).

Coffee increases the perception of likability

So the obvious takeaway is that hot drinks in cold weather make us feel better. However, there’s more to hot coffee-cold weather arithmetic than physiologic comfort. In one study, conducted at the University of Colorado, researchers recruited 41 undergrads, who were primed with either hot coffee or iced coffee before walking into the testing site. 

They were then asked to complete a personality impression questionnaire, in which they were given information about a particular individual (Person A). Some of the highlighted traits were being cautious, competent, and industrious. Subsequently, the investigators asked the students to rate the individuals on warmth and likability. Students who were primed with hot coffee (versus cold coffee) were significantly more likely to rate Individual A as warm and likable.

The implications for these findings, which have been reinforced in numerous studies, with different designs and various endpoints, are numerous, but pretty intuitive. For example, if you are trying to sell someone an idea or product, give them a hot cup of coffee (or tea or hot chocolate) when they arrive. Likewise, in social interactions, when you want to put others at ease simply to make them happy and improve the experience, get the coffee pot brewing, because therein lies the secret to feeling warm and cozy in new surroundings.

Coffee + Coldness=Amped-up Calorie Burning

In reality, we can’t always be inside drinking coffee---just because it’s cold outside. Sometimes we have to be outside, or we choose to be outside. I like hiking in cold weather (not frigid weather like today though). It feels more vigorous, challenging and ultimately rewarding when there’s the added cold-weather factor. Plus, there’s a major upside. Scientists have found that cold weather increases metabolism. In fact, some people consider enduring cold weather a form of exercise, because the body has to work harder to generate body heat. 

And when you add the calorie-busting, metabolism-boosting effect of coffee, which increases basal metabolism by 5%-8%, you can really burn a bunch of calories, and even lose weight if that’s on the agenda for you.

Baby, it's Cold Outside (stay for coffee)

And now, an ode to the cold, featuring Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald: “Baby it’s Cold Outside”---such a sexy, sultry, romantic song that makes one yearn for coffee….amongst other things.

Happy New Year to you all!