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
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 Long walks and runs have been replaced by cabin fever, indoor yoga classes and finally trying out some of the new livestream fitness classes you can do from your lounge (some Australian ones worth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.
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.”
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): https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-017-0097
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.