Cavemen didn’t have High-Voltage Air-Conditioning, so they had to learn to adapt to their surroundings in ways that actually made them stronger and healthier.
The very phrase “room temperature” implies that the temperature indoors should be constant, not variable like it is outside. In science, the range associated with room temperature is between 20°C (68°F) and 29°C (84°F).
Energy providers recommend an even narrower range for homes and businesses, heating rooms to no higher than 22°C (72°F) and cooling them to no lower than 25°C (78°F).
By contrast, “ambient temperature” refers to the temperature of the natural surroundings. Many researchers now believe that instead of avoiding temperature extremes, we should actually be using them to strengthen our bodies.
Ulrich Betz is one of them. As director of the Institute for Physical Therapy, Prevention and Rehabilitation at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, he asserts that “Over time, the lack of exposure to natural stimuli weakens the immune system.” He believes that the more often your body is exposed to cold, the less sensitive to cold it becomes.
Rainer Brenke, the Hufeland Clinic’s head physician of naturopathy, explains why such “cold training” works. When your body identifies a big difference between its standard temperature of 37°C (98.6°F) and the ambient temperature, it takes measures to keep its normal level. He says, “This boosts blood flow and the entire body is invigorated.”
Body toughening can involve heat as well as cold. Bikram yoga, for example, is performed at temperatures of around 40°C (105° F) with humidity levels of 40% or higher. High ambient temperatures in combination with active muscular contractions help reduce the viscosity of muscle connective tissues, which in turn enables greater extensibility and deeper stretches with less risk of injuries.
Stimulation therapy using heat and cold can also help reduce high blood pressure and alleviate nervous disorders. Among practices used for centuries this way are air and sun baths, cold showers, going barefoot and sauna use.
But of all the available opportunities, none is easier than simply turning off the A/C or heater and allowing your body to experience ambient temperature.
Alfablue, February 2013