Physical Activity Levels Change with the Seasons
Study shows women work out more in summer, less in winter
weather and seasonal changes can be significant roadblocks on the path
to a healthy lifestyle, suggests a study published in the February 2009
issue Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official
scientific journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).
According to the study, the link between physical activity and ideal
environments may be particularly pronounced in older women.
Ph.D., and his team monitored the physical activity levels of 508
post-menopausal Caucasian and black women in the "Women On the Move
through Activity and Nutrition (WOMAN)" study during an 18-month
period, using questionnaires and a pedometer. Participants were divided
into two groups of physical activity counseling – lifestyle
intervention and health education. Participants’ baseline step
counts averaged over 7,000 per day during summer months, but fell
nearly 2,000 steps during winter.
long suspected that seasons influence physical activity levels," Newman
said. "It’s natural to want to stay indoors more during colder
months, leading to fewer opportunities to be physically active, which
in turn, may negatively affect health."
fluctuation in activity wasn’t limited to only climates with cold
winters, however; women who lived in areas of the United States with
extremely hot summers recorded lower activity levels during those time
periods as well.
Newman’s study found that lifestyle intervention –
including a physical activity component – was effective in
keeping activity levels stable throughout all months of the year. Women
in the lifestyle intervention group had little variation in
month-to-month step counts, when compared to the health education
45 and 64 years– like those in our study – have some of the
lowest reported activity levels of any population subgroup out there,"
Newman said. "It’s ironic, because physical activity is critical
at this age, to optimize functionality and health during the aging
fitness professionals – like personal trainers – can act as
good lifestyle coaches for people struggling to increase or maintain
their physical activity levels. ACSM’s ProFinderservice provides
a searchable tool for finding ACSM-certified health and fitness
professionals in cities and states around the country.
For more information on American College of Sports Medicine, visit www.acsm.org.