Are you always cold at work?

Are you always cold at work?

If you’re a woman reading this at work and happen to be shivering, researchers may have the answer as to why you’re so cold.

Most office buildings are set at temperatures based on a formula that uses the metabolic rate of the average man, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. This formula, based on a 40-year-old, 154-pound male, was developed in the 1960s, and it may overestimate the female metabolic rate by up to 35 percent.

Metabolic rates can directly affect body temperature.

“This may cause buildings to be intrinsically non-energy-efficient in providing comfort to females,” study authors said. “Therefore, we make a case to use actual metabolic rates.”

When it comes to metabolism, women have lower resting metabolic rates than men.

Dr. Margaret Fruhbauer, an Advocate Medical Group internist with Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill., says that’s in part because women generally have smaller body frames, less mass and less muscle, but more body fat compared to men.

Body fat has a lower metabolic rate than muscle,” Dr. Fruhbauer says. “Fat cells produce less heat than muscle cells.”

Trying to work while wearing an oversized sweatshirt or wrapped in a blanket isn’t just an annoyance. Employees who are uncomfortable at work – whether they are too hot or too cold – are less productive, according to a 2006 review by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on 24 previous temperature and office work performance studies.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends employers set the indoor office temperature in the range of 68 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit. But one 2004 study by Cornell University found a tad higher may be better. During a month-long study, they cranked up the temperature in one Orlando, Fla., office from 68 to 77 degrees, and found typing errors decreased 44 percent and typing output increased 150 percent.

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  1. At the mere suggestion of turning up the office thermostat over 70 degrees has me seeing red. I prefer the office cold and would far rather put on a cardigan than be sweating my behind off at 77 degrees. I live in Chicago and cannot imagine walking into the office in the winter wearing full winter gear just having walked 20 minutes from the train in the snow to arrive at work and have it be close to 80 degrees. Now imagine summers here when it is hot as heck outside and it is too hot in our already chilly office for a cardigan, no way do I want my office temperature at close to 80. I don’t care what the research says, it is far easier for someone that is chilly to put on a sweater than it is for someone that is hot and down to as low as you can go and remain “professional” to seek comfort temperature wise. Leave the thermostat alone. Do what your parents said, – cold – put a sweater on. Oh, and yes I am female an I am 47 in case you were wondering.

  2. 77 degrees is too warm, put on a sweater or get up and move.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.