Each year, on the first of January, it begins—the “new year, new you” proclamations, the weight loss resolutions and the sudden spike in gym goers creating lines for the treadmill. Everyone in this vast category has one thing on their minds—getting fit for summer.
While any plans to live a healthier lifestyle should be encouraged, those with winter weight loss ambitions might be making it harder on themselves. Evidence suggests it could be easier to shed pounds in the summer. Here’s why:
#1 Summer weather makes it easier and more enjoyable to be outdoors. Trips to the park, day hikes and swimming to cool off—it’s not hard to see how warmer temperatures and longer days can make it easier to be active. If you needed proof, a Gallup poll found that people were significantly more active in 2013 and that increased activity “coincided with warmer than usual temperatures.”
The analysis went on to say that since they started tracking daily exercise data in January of 2008, they have found a regular trend. “Exercise is seasonal—with frequency picking up in the spring and summer and declining in the fall and winter.”
#2 Sunlight increases serotonin levels. Serotonin is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that affects everything from mood to memory. Studies have shown serotonin levels affect appetite—high levels can curb cravings and low levels have been linked to depression and obesity.
#3 People eat less when it’s hot out. You might recognize that your appetite tends to taper off in the heat. One explanation is that eating provides us with energy and helps us maintain body heat. This heat is helpful in the winter, but in the summer our bodies don’t need the extra heat so we aren’t hungry as often.
#4 People tend to eat better food in the summer. Fruit and vegetables are fresher and more readily available in the summer months, giving people the opportunity to make better food choices. Additionally, foods like watermelon, cantaloupe and cucumber have a high water content, which makes them more satisfying in the heat.
#5 People tend to drink more water in the summer. Getting the right amount of water is great for your body and it helps you lose weight in three ways. Thirst can occasionally feel like hunger, a glass of water could help you avoid eating when you’re not actually hungry. Water keeps your metabolism working efficiently and drinking enough water ensures you have the energy to exercise.
#6 Revealing clothing and bathing suits are big motivators for weight loss. People make weight loss resolutions in January, magazines print “beach body” workouts all spring and then everyone stresses about looking good in less clothing for the entirety of summer. Whether or not it actually matters, everyone has been told it’s important to look good in a swim suit and that seems to be powerful incentive to slim down.