NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Recent research claims there could be a new normal for a well-known health standard.

For 150 years, the average human body temperature has been commonly known to be 98.6 degrees.

Even the thermometers at the drug store say so. But what if we told you this is no longer the norm and our bodies have cooled down considerably in the past century?

That number instilled in our brains was based on findings from a German physician in 1868, who sampled 25,000 patients and found 98.6 degrees to be the average temp, but researchers at Stanford recently found the average now is more like 97.9 degrees.

CBS2’s Jessica Layton spoke to Dr. Eric Ascher, a family medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, to find out.

“We’re living much healthier lifestyles now. There’s an awareness on exercise, there’s an awareness on nutrition, and that is allowing our bodies not to work as hard to maintain a steady temperature,” he said. “Accessibility of over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, for example, is helping our bodies decrease inflammation, and when there’s less inflammation, there’s a lower body temperature.”

Doctors say regardless of new research, it’s always a good idea to know your own baseline temperature.

Test yourself at the same time for a few days in a row, knowing temperatures can rise and fall about a degree throughout the day.

Ascher says the study doesn’t change the standard for fever — 100.4 degrees remains the magic number.

“Realistically, it’s not going to make too much of a difference with the body temperature being a couple of decimal places different,” he said.

Still, it’s fascinating to think that in such a fast-paced, high-stress world, somehow, we’re chilling out.


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