Climate will Make it both Easier and More Difficult to Exercise

Ben Cavet skiing the moguls

Ben Cavet skiing the moguls. By Dominic Trewin [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Will Global Warming make it easier or more difficult to exercise? The answer apparently depends on how you squint at the latest study.

How climate change could affect the way we exercise

Sarah Berry APRIL 26 2017

The extreme changes of weather recently – from a seemingly endless heatwave to seemingly endless rain – affect more than the environment; they also affect the way we move.

For months it has often felt too hot or too wet to exercise. Long walks and runs have been replaced by cabin fever, indoor yoga classes and finally trying out some of the new livestream fitness classes you can do from your lounge (some Australian ones worth checking out include Varlah, Voome, Yogaholics and The Robards Method).

But, generally, for many of us during times of extreme weather conditions, we simply become more sedentary, exchanging the walk to work with the car or swapping the bicycle for the bus. Whether it’s lethargy from heat or an instinct to bunker down from the wet, we sit more and do less.

If we do that for too long, there is an impact on our health.

Read more:

Sounds bad, right? Maybe not;

Study Finds A Rare, ‘Small Silver Lining’ Of Climate Change: More Exercise

Jeremy Rellosa April 25, 2017

This is obvious: If it’s 10 degrees below zero outside, chances are you won’t see many runners on the street. But on a 70-degree spring day, you’ll spot more.

Given this link between weather and exercise, how will climate change affect it? That’s what one researcher at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government wanted to understand.

A study published Monday in the journal Nature offers an answer: Overall, we’re likely to see higher rates of physical activity as our country gets warmer.

“That could correspond to increases in benefits that we receive from being more physically active,” said lead author Nick Obradovich, a postdoctoral fellow at the Kennedy School. “This is one of the very rare studies that has shown some small possible benefits associated with warming for the United States.”

Read more:

The abstract of the study which caused this confusion;

Climate change may alter human physical activity patterns

Nick Obradovich & James H. Fowler


Regular physical activity supports healthy human functioning. Might climate change—by modifying the environmental determinants of human physical activity—alter exercise rates in the future? Here we conduct an empirical investigation of the relationship between meteorological conditions, physical activity and future climate change. Using data on reported participation in recreational physical activity from over 1.9 million US survey respondents between 2002 and 2012, coupled with daily meteorological data, we show that both cold and acutely hot temperatures, as well as precipitation days, reduce physical activity. We combine our historical estimates with output from 21 climate models and project the possible physical activity effects of future climatic changes by 2050 and 2099. Our projection indicates that warming over the course of this century may increase net recreational physical activity in the United States. Activity may increase most during the winter in northern states and decline most during the summer in southern states.

Read more (paywalled):

Sydney might not suffer the extreme winter cold of northern states of the USA, but Sydney winters are not much fun – even 50F can be a turnoff for outdoor activities if it is rainy, dark and windy. But maybe I’m prejudiced – my preferred exercise temperature is a nice 90F day, splashing about in my tropical swimming pool.

79 thoughts on “Climate will Make it both Easier and More Difficult to Exercise

  1. For the first time this year I donned long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt for my dawn walk up my hill behind the house. It was 15C.
    Pool heater just turned on this week as the pool temp dropped to 27C instead of my preferred 30C.
    Hard times indeed, all caused by CAGW ™ no doubt.

    • Talk about a confluence of JUNK SCIENCE! It took me a lot of reading; literally years of lifting up rocks to find out the actual science about “exercise” shows that no one, literally NO ONE, needs to train like an athlete doing hard, stress exercise to be “healthy.” All they have to do is move around doing common house and garden chores, or take a half-hour walk per day. That’s it! Virtually ALL the rest is hype by a multi-billion dollar industry that depends on guilt and unrealistic aspirations by normalizing the look of people who “work out” FOR A LIVING–professional athletes, models, etc. If you enjoy that sort of thing, go for it but I for one am sick of the NON-science-based hype constantly hammering the public.

  2. I ride an exercise bike inside for an hour every day. I also lift weights 2-3 times a week. Weather has no effect on my exercise schedule.

      • That’s not true about doing exercise outside. I’ve never done yoga outside. Nor weights, zumba, or pilates.
        Humans and dogs cannot live on this planet without shelter. We live in space ship like pods (houses). There are some exceptions, but not many. You can say we evolved, I say we were dropped off.

      • If weather had no effect, you’d be doing it outside. Not so. While I live in a safe neighborhood, leaving all those weights outside is just asking for someone to stop by and steal them. My wife and I never considered fencing (with epees, not wrought iron) outdoors – a neighbor would probably call the cops. I like to exercise before I shower, but prefer not to show off this bod with messy hair to the whole neighborhood.
        Maybe I’d be doing it outside except for overcrowding. Maybe that’s why I bought 80 acres.

      • 80 acres. Nice. Do you have any neighbors close enough to notice the messy body hair, even if you did exercise outside?

      • Curious, PeterD, WHY would you ride an exercise bike outside? Now if he was interested in traveling around outside on bike, then he would be outside, but exercising on an exercise bike, well it would seem perfectly normal to me if he did it indoors. In fact, for myself, I go outside to “enjoy” the outside, not exercise. Exercises, such as lifting weights, are better done inside, as is riding a stationary bike or using a treadmill. I don’t consider taking a 2 hour hike outside exercise, that’s fun.

    • I also exercise indoors. My lungs can’t handle all that oxygen in the air outside any more. But the terrible truth is that the man-made co2 level in my house makes it ever more difficult to get up from the couch. However, there is hope; the new Placebo Treadmill runs along by itself, and you an sit in the sofa with a beer and FEEL the workout effect.

    • You miss the point, PeterD. There are alternatives so weather need not constrain your ability to exercise.

    • In a world where humans are continually roasting, Vivaldi could never have written his “Four Seasons.
      I feel a grant application coming on.

      • And there would be no place for Princess Winterspringsummerfall, either. You DO remember her, right?

  3. I found it was hard to exercise once i found out i had to turn off the tv and get off the couch lol

  4. Lets see I’ve lived in the coldest of climates and the hottest. Working hard and playing hard at every radical heart pounding sport, I’m still here no climate melting, rust or rot the warmist as full of S***!!!

  5. The invention of electricity has made people think the weather controls their movements. Climate controlled interiors of buildings and vehicles are making pansies out of everyone. Only older people remember what it was like to not have these conveniences in the USA. Where people from depressed countries don’t seem to have a problem with getting out in all climates. It makes me wonder where these theorist live to even contemplate such thoughts.

    • “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” – Old Scottish proverb.
      About 160 countries claim it as their saying, now.

    • John,
      Amen on the pansies. I’ve done a lot of different jobs in my life. Many of them required being out in the world, regardless of how awful the weather. Jobs like farming, trucking, plowing snow, and working in the woods come to mind.
      In fact, the entire concept of engaging in useless-by-design physical activity for the purpose of allegedly “improving health” strikes me as bizarre. One doesn’t find birds flying around in circles to “improve health”, for example. Other species conserve energy whenever possible. Only urbanized humans seek to purposely increase their expenditure of energy.
      If I really felt like I needed “exercise” beyond my normal activities, I’d re-roof the shed, or cut more firewood, for example.

      • In nature, birds don’t need to exercise. The amount of flying about that they do to find food is sufficient.
        Human’s in hunter gatherer phase didn’t need to exercise either. The work they did gathering plants and chasing prey was all they needed.
        Ditto for humans in the early farming days. Lots of hard work, every day.

      • useless-by-design physical activity for the purpose of …
        I note we have the same initials, and the same view of the above.
        I’ve never understood the walk/run/bike/swim in a straight_line/crooked_line/circle/random_path for a cause.
        There is always something useful to do. I often volunteer to build trails. [See WTA dot org]
        High winds in forests and lightning anywhere will chase us off the trail. Otherwise the activity goes on.
        That first lady — Sarah Berry — Her portrait is beside the entry for “Snowflake” in the picture dictionary.
        Now I have a few hundred pounds of rocks to move. Bye.

      • This dawned on me watching the wild animals, my cats dogs and horses. They move as necessary, when necessary, and for a reason. NO ANIMAL SPECIES, wild or domestic, EVER engages in cardiovascular exhaustion or works muscle groups to failure absent the mortal threat of a predator. The fact that we do is a measure of our gullibility in the face of “experts,” most of whom are not. My trade requires a non-negotiable level of considerable and regular physical exertion. Beyond that–do like the animals do and you’ll be FINE. Furthermore, few of us should appear in public in Spandex. EVER.

    • Yes, I remember no air conditioning in the summer. I lived in Maine then. Now I remember cutting wood for heat – I live in Arizona now. As for exercise, when in Maine I shoveled the driveway too many times, but that wasn’t exercise, that was work. Now I love hiking in the desert – even in the summer time, but that’s not exercise, that’s fun. Everything is relative. Just because you drive a car and don’t have to shoe a horse to get around doesn’t make you a pansy, it makes you an adapted human being.
      As for letting the weather control my movements, well you know, when I was younger, I still hated walking in a cold rain. I generally stayed inside. Not too fussy about walking when the snow was falling horizontal, either.

  6. The epitome of the Chicken Little Syndrome! The Earth experiences an annual range in temperature of 250 to 300 deg F (<167 deg C, for those who are math impaired) and can even experience temperature changes of 100 deg F in 12 hours in deserts. Humans have adapted to those extremes. The Earth has reputedly had a global average increase of under 2 deg F in the last 100 years, with most of it being an increase in the night time and Winter lows. Also, the Arctic is warming faster than the regions where the yuppies go for their jogs. And we are to believe that another 1 deg F in the global AVERAGE is going to be a serious impediment? The article also neglected to mention that the predictions for an AVERAGE temperature are running hot compared to actual temperatures.

  7. Aren’t they tempting providence?
    “This is one of the very rare studies allowed to be published that has shown some small possible benefits associated with warming for the United States” would be more accurate.
    I must live in the same area as Jer0me. Had to turn the car heater on last week, around the 21st I think.
    At this rate, the locals will be starting their 15km Fun Runs a month early 🙂

      • My first was a spec’d Vanguard by Longbikes’ Greg Peek in 1995 that I rode until the frame cracked a weld the second time, about 50K miles. Then a few years on a Green Gear DoubleDay tandem folding recumbent. Then a Greenspeed trike until it was crushed by a tornado, and replaced by my current ICE Sprint. Interspersed is a CruzBike MBB FWD.

      • I believe you misunderstand the use of the word “recumbent”. In this case, you are required to use physical activity to cause motion. You are undoubtedly thinking of a Lazy-boy.

    • What’s with the sarc tag? I did a lot more strenuous exercise in 1970. I suspect that’s true for a lot of us.
      Humans are unique with regard to adapting to environmental conditions. Here’s a link to a map showing the range of non-human primates. Most of the developed world is outside that range.

  8. The Warmistas are continually offering us advice and warmings on the myriad of future effects of the ‘would-be’ warming/ However they steadfastly, never offer us any proof at all that the ‘Global Warming / Climate Change’ effects have anything at all to do ith either CO2 or our activity. Until that occurs we can safely ignore them.

    • If there wasn’t 24 hour/day “news” desperate for “compelling” stories, CAGW would get no traction at all.

  9. There is an obvious oxygen depletion issue though….
    When I go for a body surf, there is FAR less oxygen out behind the break than there was when I was young !

    • I have the same problem. I exercise nearly every day, but can’t lose weight.
      I place the blame squarely on CO2. All that CO2 in my beer is doing it, I’m absolutely certain.

    • I made a discovery on this issue. When I STOPPED exercising for a period of time due to a leg injury, I actually LOST weight. I suspect that I was replacing heavier muscle mass with lighter fat mass.

  10. I ride HPV performance tricycle, currently vacationing on the Withlacoochee SP trail, 90+°F yesterday. At home, down to about 40°F. I’m 68 y.o., ATM HR 35 BPM In winter I use a mouse wheel by Kurt Kinetic and despise it.
    I use an HPV mower by Fiskars, and trim with an Austrian blade scythe.

  11. This is another of those1. if you move from Chicago to Miami you will die from the heat, 2. if you move from Miami to Chicago you will die from the cold, and 3. if you don’t move at all you will die. I remember a geophysicist once telling me that an aeromagnetic survey had detected three types of anomalies: highs between lows, highs outside of lows, and highs not associated with lows.

  12. Oh ….bollocks.
    There’s absolutely NOTHING, what so ever, to do with alternating weather patterns (climate change) that changes our activity preferences.
    Its simply a matter of personal situations and attitudes.
    Sheeez….give the climate a break why don’t they???
    I’m approaching 58, and have just now started doing a physical regime that just might see me looking better than I did when 20 or EVEN 30 years younger.
    20 or 30 years ago, there (probably) was no issue surround climate change, yet I was pot bellied then…as I am, now.
    Yet, somehow, if my positive attitude is maintained, I will reap the benefits of getting off my arse, and actually doing something.
    So, if nothing climatic has changed over those 20 or 30 years…what has???
    My attitude, thats what!!!
    End of story!!

  13. In order to better sell the globaloney climitchangey product they have to throw in some good stuff once in a while. Marketing 101.

  14. I guess skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, skating, ice hockey and indoor tennis doesn’t count for exercise. Californians and Ozzies!!

    • Plus Many. I just came back from skiing in Banff in over a foot of fresh stuff for three days. Day 1 – ski off the lifts. Day 2 and 3 – lift then hike to find the good stuff. And ski season at Sunshine Village goes to May 22. Then I switch to horses.
      And then there are a lot of farmers out there that don’t need to go to the gym.
      And a lot of us who have been out on the land for any reason including farming don’t see a “problem” with Climate as we have been adapting to it forever. I suspect most of the folks outside of big cities don’t really know what is going on in the wilderness. More growing days is a good thing for a lot of things. Warmer? Doesn’t seem to be on the high plains and the skiing seems to be about the same as it was 60+ years ago.
      Outdoor folks learn about weather: “When Mother Nature does what you want, it is good. Otherwise you learn to adapt.”
      And they understand how to work:

  15. As long as the weather doesn’t affect my 12oz curl regimen (got to maintain the guns), I’m good.

    • My entre to shooting was maintaining a warehouse ‘filing cabinet’ of X-ray film, 25# per 1″ bundle until repetitive motion carpal tunnel syndrome made me quit. But I had a killer grip and arm strength. Still an LAC armed ATM.

  16. Weather certainly affects MY exercise pattern. I live in Stockton, CA, where the temperature gets up in the mid 90s F all summer long, except for a few 100 + days. During the summer I exercise early in the morning, when it’s relatively cool. During the winter, I switch to afternoons, when it’s relatively warm.
    A GENERAL temperature increase of about 2 F or less with a doubling of CO2 would have no effect on that.

  17. This is the kind of low-value, downstream “science” that marchers demand we fund and revere. Curry was right; fund core science projects and ix-nay the downstream feeder projects.

  18. Global warming does affect health.
    Wait for the forthcoming studies that show CO2 correlates with larger tooth growth. Today’s teens have those large white flashy smiles that their grandparents lack. The CO2 is involved with the body chemistry of the calcium that makes tooth enamel, apatite, aka calcium hydroxyphosphate. Larger, stronger teeth give better eating, better nutrition. Less exercise is needed as people choose to eat dried beef strips instead of ice cream, because they can.
    Confirmation of this blog comes from the Greek roots of the word ‘apatite’. Do look it up.

  19. No human can detect the change in average temps due to global warming. Get real.
    If worried, join a health club and exercise in 72 degree exercise rooms.

  20. One of the many reasons why I do not believe that climate change is catastrophic or bad is because something that explains everything explains nothing. Getting more exercise? Climate change, now pay up. Getting less exercise? Climate change again, now pay up. Getting more hurricanes? Climate change, now pay up. Getting fewer hurricanes? Climate change again, now pay up. It is like people saying “God can do anything” when something they cannot explain happens. That is not science, it is blind faith.

  21. Methinks the climatistas know that their project is doomed and now they’re just clutching at straws in order to sound relevant.

  22. I ski 12 months a year without leaving California and have been doing so for more than a decade, although in the summer I have to hike to get my turns. This year, it looks like Mammoth and Squaw will be spinning lifts all summer and I won’t have to hike to keep my streak alive. So yes, a cooling climate will change my exercise patterns.

  23. Heavy snow here in WY this morning. Great exercise shoveling, if it don’t kill you. If it don’t kill you it’s supposed to make you stronger. Still here, but most certainly do not feel stronger and it’s still snowing.

  24. I gave up sex, drugs, and alcohol. And, began exercising.
    It was the worst 15 minutes of my life.

    • Sex is good exercise, or at least it can be. Or is that used to be? Long term memory still works, short term, not so much.

    • That’s nothing. Ive been sober for about 6,000 days now.
      Not in a row or anything though, just in total 🙂

  25. “…but Sydney winters are not much fun – even 50F can be a turnoff for outdoor activities if it is rainy, dark and windy….” Here in Da’ UP, 50°F is shorts & T-shirt springtime weather… camping, fishing, lawnchair & a book, and dog walking weather. We had 6″ of snow yesterday (April 27th) and it’s white all over… hope the daylilies & serviceberry buds do okay….

    • Here in Da’ UP
      Translation: jmichna {j is a MI native} who lives in the Upper Peninsula of the Great State of Michigan.
      The UP is known for its snow-free mild winters!
      Okay, that’s a joke.

  26. Well, it’s a viscous circle, isn’t it? I exercise, producing more C02 as I huff and puff, and THEN I get hungry, and consume more food – requiring higher food production – more C02 – and of course, there’s all that methane by-product, depending on how much protein I ate. At this rate, I might just destroy the planet single-handedly. I mean, I’m talking a Godzilla Carbon Footprint.
    Thank God I don’t ride a bike to work.

  27. I guess my comments were geared more to how people live today and don’t know what it was like without these conveniences they live in. I’m a born and raised Arizonian. I grew up in the fan’s and evaporated cooler day’s and into my twenties the only A/C was in vehicles. We used wood buring stoves at home in the winter. And children played outside in all except strong rain lightning storm’s. I lived in the desert in the late 1980’s at our mining camp for 4 years. During the time it was a month of 115 to 121 at Sky Harbor Airport. We hauled water and had no electricity. I did farm labor and worked on a dairy from 1968 to 1995 and a few tractors had A/C and heating while the most were open without canopies. Hoeing weeds, irrigating, cleaning ditches year around…mostly in early morning hour’s in summer. We could go to the mountains and vist snow, then return home in a day. I lived in one of the worst ice storm’s in Texas in the mid 1980’s one year…that was enough of that for me to not go back. But people tend to depend upon their comtrolled climate and miss the environment directly because it is an inconvenience to be in it.

  28. So-so-so much selection bias with regard to “exercise,” it’s laughable. Who is it that “bikes to work?” Why, the young, the fit, the obsessed, the virtue-signallers, and especially those whose company provides shower facilities at the office. And I’m betting they take alt-trans. on days when it’s raining or snowing. In fact, if you take all the self-righteousness out of “exercise,” no sane person on earth over 16 would do most of this stuff. No one used to. . . that’s why the real scientifically proven truth (move somehow, 20 minutes per day and it need not be all at once) is hidden like the Holy Grail–it’s so boring, so mundane, so OBVIOUS that its wholesale adoption (move some, eat/drink in moderation) would put a vast industry of dissatisfaction and guilt-mongering out of business yesterday!

    • Gotta agree. I take the dog for a hike each morning, a definite win-win that one (judging by the dog’s eagerness). I also swim every day because it’s the second best way to exercise IMO (guess the first).
      I do perform squats each day too, but that is because my knees are shot and it makes them work much better.

  29. I hear you. Even my hobbies were physical. Carrying a deer or javalina over a mile back to the road isn’t the fun part of hunting. Dredging all day moving big rocks under water for a few grains or ounces of gold is a workout. Doing auto body repairs and changing drive train parts – without having a shop or garage – in driveways is by man power. I’ve been testing vehicles for over 20 year’s and doing ballast changes with 10 – 50 lb weight bags from seats or boxes in beds of trucks to the storage bins, anywhere from 150 lbs per seat and over a thousand lbs in truck beds…going up or down in weight. Opening and closing doors, etc, inside and out over a hundred times per function and per shift is physically a workout on a daily bases. So it’s not fun and games just driving all shift…avoiding other driver’s out in traffic. I get it that desk bound jobs is like being a couch potato. I’ve been there too. I was always physically strong and overweight. I blew our both of my shoulder rotor cups training for the strongman competition in the 1980’s. I went down hill, health wise, after that for a few year’s. But the climate never was an issue. Weather Patterns were part of everything I did and I did what needed done in it.

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