Do you feel happier when the sun in shining? That's not surprising. A report published in the British Journal of Psychology found that warmer temperatures lowered anxiety and skepticism while more hours of sunshine increased positive thinking. In fact you'd be interested to know that the 'winter blues' have a more formal name which is 'Seasonal Affective Disorder' or (appropriately) 'SAD'. This disorder can bring about over-eating, inactivity and even depression.
I was chatting to a client today about how a nice Sunny day can bring with it the motivation to head back to training post winter hibernation. We all put it down to the fact that we can hide that extra fat roll underneath a fluffy turtleneck in winter but when we talk about motivation during the colder months, science can actually come into play. Here are four scientific reasons why the temperature drop can effect our mindset around staying fit and healthy...
When exposed to less sunlight, your body produces more melatonin, the hormone which makes you feel sleepy.
Cold temperatures reduce sensory feedback, dexterity, muscle strength, blood flow, and balance, which can impact your performance in physical tasks (that's why those burpees feel so hard!)
The lack of sunlight associated with cold and rainy days can cause serotonin levels to drop, and as serotonin levels decrease, carbohydrate cravings increase.
As atmospheric pressure decreases, clouds and rain become much more likely. This change in pressure allows bodily fluids to move from blood vessels to tissues, causing pressure on the nerves and joints, which leads to increased pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.
Maintaining an exercise routine, taking daily walks and getting the right amount (not too much) sleep are all important factors in treating 'SAD'. It's a double edge sword because motivation to exercise in winter is always harder but if you do manage to get to the gym, you can combat that feeling and get through the colder months without falling into a rut.
Every personal trainer hates winter because there are always those clients that drop off the radar for a few months and very few people want to start an exercise plan when it's cold. Throughout my 4 years of working as a Personal Trainer though, the clients that can keep up the exercise through winter have an easier time keeping their nutrition on track and also maintain that healthy and positive mindset all year round.
Here's to a happy and healthy you :-)