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7 ways light can have a positive effect on your health and fitness

From body to mind, here’s how to use lighting to upgrade your wellbeing

The study of light and the effect it can have on our lives has become a popular topic of conversation in recent years.

Thanks to decades of research, we now know that different frequencies of light can have either negative and positive impacts on both our physical and mental states. Take for instance how blue light emitted from screens can hinder our sleep, or how red light can be used as a healing therapy for our bodies.

But what about working out? Well, scientists are beginning to understand more about that area, too. Whether it’s natural or artificial light, studies show that it may have an influence on our energy levels, concentration, and even impact and improve athletic performance.
Here are seven different ways you can optimise the light in your life to upgrade your wellbeing and give your workout a boost.

A brightly-lit room for motivation

If you’re working out at home, be aware that the way a room is lit could impact how prepared you are for your daily exercise. Research from the University of Toronto Scarborough has found that under bright lights, our emotions are felt more intensely and can affect how we make decisions. So perhaps midday is the best time to get the more gruelling workouts out of the way, when the light is beaming through the windows and you’re more mentlaly prepared to smash it head on.

Green spaces for enhanced relaxation

Fan of meditation? You might want to head to your local park or the garden for the best backdrop. Psychologists at the University of Hertfordshire discovered that subdued green light enhances the production of dopamine in the brain and provides a calming sensation, making us more conducive to deep thought and reflection. A nice sunny patch of grass would be perfect, especially post-exercise.

Natural light for aiding tougher workouts

If you’re looking to smash a PB on your next run or job on the treadmill, aim for the days when you can absorb the most sunlight possible. It might be a little warmer, but you’re probably going to run faster. That’s because scientists have uncovered that wavelengths from bright, intense light, which could make you more motivated and alert
Beyond a physical effect, such light also has a mood-raising effect, which could help give you those energising vibes, and get you ready to take on those tougher workouts.

Body clock-synced workouts for amped performance

A study produced by Thomas Kantermann found that while light exposure can enhance physical performance, it’s related to an individual’s internal clock, or “circadian rhythm". This refers to our 24-hour biological cycle, which is primarily influenced by light reception. So if you want to make the most of your workout, do so when your body clock is expecting to experience light the most, such as late morning or early afternoon.

Busting stress with the great outdoors

A simple walk outdoors might be the best remedy to a stressful day working from home. The same University of Hertfordshire study mentioned previously found that blue light from the sky created “a mild form of sensory deprivation” in its study’s respondents, helping them turn their attention inward and distract them away from daily stress.

The morning sun: a metabolism booster

Research conducted by Northwestern University found that people who were exposed to more morning light had higher insulin resistance and weighed less than those who got sunlight later in the day. As a result, the scientists believe that, one day, they could use light to manipulate metabolic function.

Different light frequencies have emotional healing properties

Scientific research on the effect of specific light frequencies has found that different colours can help change your mood, depending on the end result you’re after. A yoga studio in East London has taken this one step further, using light in a more sensory fashion. The studio holds different coloured classes in an ergonomically-designed room soaked in a specific colour, each with a teacher that guides the class through a set of sequences which correspond to the healing properties of that colour. Taking the yellow class, for example, will enable practitioners to experience an energising flow designed to aid digestion and balance mood swings, the studio claims. While a red class will fill yogis with light that interacts with the body, by penetrating the first 2mm of skin tissue, increasing energy generation on a cellular level.

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