Need a new strategy to add to your weight-loss regimen? How about something as easy as a daily dose of bright, morning light?
According to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE, those who had more exposure to daylight earlier in the day had a lower overall body mass index (BMI) than those who got their exposure later in the day. A definite reason to rise and shine early versus rolling out of bed after breakfast has stopped getting served at your favorite local diner!
Now you may be wondering if other factors were considered, such as diet. They were. Surprisingly, the positive effect from light exposure was independent of not only how many calories participants consumed, but when they went to sleep and how much they slept. Also, the study adjusted for other factors, such as age, gender, and season. Out of all the variables considered, light exposure accounted for the largest portion of the variance — 20% to be exact.
These positive effects may be related to how light affects our circadian rhythm, our body’s natural “clock,” and the release of hormones, such as melatonin — two important factors in weight regulation and metabolism.
The main thing that affected body mass index (BMI), which is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight measurements, was the intensity, duration, and timing of the light exposure according to the researchers. In addition to finding that the average majority of light exposure earlier in the day was associated with a lower BMI, they also found that for every hour later of light exposure, there was a 1.28 unit increase in BMI. Based on the data, the researchers concluded that light may very well be a “modifiable risk factor for the prevention and management of obesity in modern societies.”
In light of this recent study, I’m going to be a little more conscientious about opening my curtains and blinds in the morning to let the daylight stream in! Also, I’m going to shoot for going for morning walks more often. How about you? Do you think this study will change how you live or when you spend time outside?
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Copyright © Karen Peltier and Well Gal, 2014 – 2015. All rights reserved.
Photos © Karen Peltier and Well Gal, 2014 – 2015.