Staying warm: What does an unheated room do to your body?

Inside Health presenter, BBC Radio 4 | By James Gallagher

Mention deadly cold and I think of polar explorers with icicles dangling from their beards and mountaineers tackling the heights of Everest; of fingers turning black with frostbite and the chilling clutch of hypothermia.

So I was sceptical when I was asked to take part in a cold experiment that took place at just 10 degrees Celsius. Yes, 10C.

To me that’s mild, nowhere near freezing and certainly no Arctic blast. Surely we’d have to go much colder before putting a strain on the body? I was wrong.

“It sounds mild, but it is a real physiological challenge,” Prof Damian Bailey, from the University of South Wales, tells me.

He’s invited me to his laboratory to explore the impact of cold homes on our bodies and why such seemingly mild temperatures can become deadly.

“Ten degrees is the average temperature that people will be living in, if they can’t afford to heat their homes,” said Prof Bailey.

And as I was about to find out, 10C has a profound impact on the heart, lungs and brain.

"You're delivering less blood to the brain, so there's less oxygen and less glucose [sugar] getting into the brain and the downside of that is it's having a negative impact on your mental gymnastics."

Professor Damian Bailey, University of South Wales