This Sunday, March 12, marks the date we change our clocks in observance of Daylight Saving Time. On this day, most U.S. residents will move their clocks forward one hour, resulting in more daylight at the end of each day.
Many people dread this “spring forward” tradition, because it means getting one less hour of sleep. But you can take advantage of the upcoming time change to help you improve your overall fitness and health routine.
The effect of daylight
The sunlight has a profound impact on our bodies, particularly two hormones that control mood and energy: serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin tends to boost mood and energy, while melatonin tends to make you feel sleepy. Too much of it can even lead to depressed feelings in some people. Winter depression is a common disorder that many people suffer with during the long, dark winter months, and it is often directly tied to the effect of less daylight, less serotonin and too much melatonin.
When sunlight is plentiful (such as during the late spring and summer months), you will produce more serotonin and less melatonin. When sunlight is less available (during fall and winter), you will produce less serotonin and more melatonin. The result can be a dramatic shift in your overall feelings of well-being and energy; you will likely find that you have more energy and motivation when the days begin to lengthen.
Put the longer days to work for you
Have you struggled to work out this winter? Has your motivation been weak? Less daylight may be the reason. If you didn’t head into fall and winter last year with a solidly entrenched fitness habit, you may have lost motivation and spent the winter merely wishing that you were working out.
Long-term fitness is the result of having a fitness routine and sticking with it. Once a habit becomes part of your life, it is easy to keep it up, even if your motivation and energy drop from time to time, as they surely will. Particularly in fall and winter.
This is the perfect time to begin building healthy exercise habits.
Take advantage of the longer days and increased sunlight. As we get closer to spring and summer, the days will get longer and longer, which will give you more time and opportunity to work out. The increased serotonin in your body will boost your mood and energy, giving you the motivation to create an exercise routine. Get serious about this routine, so that by the time fall rolls around in a few months, you will be firmly entrenched in your healthy lifestyle.
A solid fitness habit will carry you through the dark days of winter when energy and motivation lag, and you will finish the winter strong. Get started now!