A gene mutation that occurred 50,000 years ago when our ancestors left Africa and migrated from the north to Europe makes some of us more resistant to the cold. At the same time, it determines which branches of the sport, which require instant strength and energy and require endurance like a marathon, can prevail.
Some professional athletes prefer to take ice baths after exercise. Exercising in the cold of winter can rejuvenate the body, but for some it is very difficult.
Some swimmers choose to swim in cold natural lakes instead of swimming in a heated pool.
Although the benefits of swimming in cold water for mental health are widely reported in the media, there is little information about it.
But why is swimming in cold water so popular, and some people are really more resistant to the cold?
Cold weather affects performance. In the cold, the muscles slow down, the contraction takes longer, thus reducing our ability to move and generate energy (this can be solved by warming up before moving).
In addition to genetics, cold resistance also depends on the thickness of the subcutaneous fat layer and the size of the body. According to some theories, when our body cools down, the energy release of muscle cells decreases.
There are reports that exercise in the cold improves heart health, strengthens the immune system and helps to lose weight by converting white fat cells into brown fat cells. Thus, exercising in the cold can be safely beneficial.
Alpha-actin-3 protein: “Hiz geni “
The alpha-actin-3 protein in the fibers of our muscles is also called the “speed gene” and allows the muscles to rest for a shorter period of time after a sudden onset of energy and performance.
However, one in five people does not have this protein.
All the muscles in our body are made up of two types of fibers: slow twitch muscle fibers and fast twitch muscle fibers. Their ratio varies from muscle to muscle and from person to person.
Slow twitching muscle fibers provide aerobic slow movements, upright posture of the body and head, and a closed jaw. We use these muscles in exercises such as walking and running.
If all the muscles are relaxed during yoga or meditation, we can understand how many muscles are unconsciously activated. This is not an abnormal “tension” in the muscles involved; The normal function of the body is to stretch the muscles, known in medicine as “tonus”, which means that the body stays intact thanks to the slow twitching muscle fibers.
On the other hand, fast twitching muscle fibers work without oxygen, a rapid contraction, but without rapid fatigue. They engage in sudden movements such as lifting, jumping, jumping.
Alpha-actin-3 protein occurs only in these fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Experts say that 80 percent of the muscles in the body of the forces in the body of athletes (American football, hockey players) are made up of fast twitching muscle fibers, and 80 percent of the muscles of athletes (marathoners) who require endurance are slow twitching muscles.
If the former moves with more power and speed and gets tired in a short time, the second is more resistant to fatigue and can save energy for a long time by burning less energy per unit time.
What determines the types of muscle fibers?
Athletes with 80-20 percent muscle are very lucky. For most people, this ratio is around 50-50, and this ratio is determined from birth.
It is the nervous system that determines the types of muscle fibers. For this reason, it is impossible to change with sports.
An example of a chicken can be given to better understand this. The slow twitching muscle fibers in the chicken leg are denser and darker because they contain myoglobin protein. Myoglobin is a protein that combines with oxygen and is transported to the muscles by respiration, giving it a brown color due to its iron content. The red liquid that flows when you cut a steak is not blood, but myoglobin.
Chicken breasts have less myoglobin because they are made up of fast-twitch muscle fibers and are white in color. The chicken’s chest muscles are used for short and sudden movements, such as flapping their wings, while the leg muscles are used for longer.
However, this difference is less pronounced in humans. Because all our muscles are made up of a combination of these two types of fibers in different proportions.
Ways to warm the body
These fibers also play an important role in keeping the body warm. In the cold, fast twitching muscle fibers contract repeatedly and rapidly; This is the reason for the cold shiver. This is an energy-intensive activity and is effective in warming the body.
One of the most effective ways to warm up the body is to contract the muscles. 70-80 percent of the calories burned during exercise create heat.
Slow twitch muscle fibers are less tense, but are in a continuous working condition and generate effective heat.
About 1.5 billion people worldwide do not have the alpha-actin-3 protein. Although they have fast twitch muscle fibers, their muscles are generally concentrated with slow twitch fibers, so they succeed in sports that require endurance and more efficient energy use, rather than in sports that require power and fast energy bursts.
Due to a mutation in the gene for the alpha-actin-3 protein, this protein was lost to our ancestors who migrated from Africa to Europe 50,000 years ago.
Perhaps because of this mutation, people who immigrated to Europe became more resistant to cold climates because they maintained body heat by creating effective heat, not by energy-depleting vibrations, but by less intense and continuous work of slow-twitch muscle fibers.
This genotype is less common in people living in hot climates. Kenya and Nigeria 1 percent, Ethiopia 11 percent, Asia 25 percent.
People who do not have alpha-actin-3 protein are more resistant to cold climates while maintaining body heat and energy.
White butter, brown butter
Another important genetic factor in terms of resistance to cold is the proportion of fat in the body.
Just as there are two types of muscle fibers in our body, there are two types of fat: white fat and brown fat.
Brown fat, like slow-twitch muscle fibers, warms the body without the need for vibration. When exposed to cold, brown fat begins to work, which can lead to weight loss. Kristin Stanford of Ohio State University says work needs to be done to use it to treat obesity.
During exercise, this mechanism is turned off, perhaps different mechanisms are activated to warm the body; However, researchers say it is too early to draw definitive conclusions.
According to Courtenay Dunn-Lewis of the University of Pittsburgh, although cold weather prevents the burning of brown fat and has a negative effect on athletic performance, the body can warm itself up with good warm-up exercises before training. In other words, cold weather should not be a reason not to exercise.
“In fact, the cold season is the best marathon period, because it provides better heat dissipation during cold sports. Without the cold, the body had to reduce its reserves from muscle performance to heat distribution,” he says.
However, not all good athletes perform well in the cold. Some may have asthma, which affects 35 percent of athletes at this Winter Olympics. In cold weather, water vapor contains less moisture than frozen air, and dry air causes inflammation in the lungs and obstruction of the bronchi.
In short, there are genetic reasons why some people are more resistant to the cold.