Weather Gadgets

January 24, 2008

Warm Weather Boosts Mood and Broadens the Mind

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Get out—for at least 30 minutes. The positive impact warm, sunny weather can have on mental health and mood is real, according to new U-M research. Given the weather today in New England - we agree - sun and a little warmth from it can relieve the stress in your day.

Taking a trip to someplace warm in the middle of winter or lingering outside when spring arrives can be especially beneficial, with pleasant weather improving mood, memory and broadening cognitive style (openness to new information and creative thoughts) as time spent outside increased, researchers found. Hotter weather during the summer, however, lowered mood levels and the effect of pleasant weather was far less noticeable in other seasons.

"Being outside in pleasant weather really offers a way to re-set your mindset," says Matthew Keller, the post-doctoral researcher who led the psychology study. "Everyone thinks weather affects mood, but the biggest tests of this theory in 2000 found no relationship, so we went back and found there are two important variables: how much time you spend outside and what the season is. If you go from winter to spring and spend enough time outside, there's a noticeable change."

The findings, completed by a team that also included social psychology professors Barbara Frederickson and Oscar Ybarra, will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science.

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Posted by Jay Brewer at January 24, 2008 3:55 PM

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