You know regular exercise, quality sleep, drinking plenty of water and eating a well-balanced diet can boost metabolism, helping burn more calories and move the needle on the scale. But research also shows light exposure, especially in the evenings, could hamper your metabolism.
“We typically recommend avoiding bright light in the evening due to the effects it has on the circadian rhythm
,” explains Kathryn Reid, PhD, a research professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “More research is needed because the impact of light exposure later in the evening on metabolism might be a different mechanism.”
It’s not just exposure to light at certain times of day that appears to affect metabolism; the lack of sunlight during the winter months
could also impact the number on the scale. Research published in Scientific Reports
found fat cells tend to shrink when exposed to sunlight. In contrast, the lack of sunlight during winter appears to slow metabolism and promote fat storage, which could be one of the reasons for winter weight gain.
You don’t have to descend into darkness or live in a warm-weather climate to avoid gaining weight. In fact, Reid notes, “Light exposure during the day has many positive effects on health, mood, sleep and well-being, and has acute effects on alertness levels. My advice would be to maximize bright light exposure during the daytime
and avoid bright light at night, particularly in the hours prior to bedtime and during sleep.” Going for a daily walk
is a great place to start to get more daytime light, even if you need to bundle up in the winter
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