In many people’s minds, fall doesn’t exactly strike them as being one of the “healthiest” seasons.
Once the shorter days and cooler weather are in full swing, all those fun summer activities tend to get replaced with work, school, and lots of TV shows premiering for the new season. Likewise, our healthy balanced diets start getting invaded by candy, mashed potatoes and cookies thanks to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the start of the Christmas season – not to mention the pumpkin lattes, pumpkin Oreos and pumpkin-everything-else.
Diet and exercise sure can be difficult to control in the fall, but there are lots of other ways you can actually take advantage of the fall season to improve your health. In fact, you may be reaping some of the benefits already without even knowing it!
Here are just five unexpected health benefits the fall season has to offer.
1. Cracking a Window Open to Let the Cool Air in at Night Can Help Supercharge Your Sleep.
It sure can be miserable to try getting to sleep in a hot and humid room without any A/C during the summer, so the colder weather is often welcomed by many who lose sleep over it. And it just so turns out that when it comes to getting adequate sleep, your brain loves colder temperatures.
According to a study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, healthy men who slept in a room set at a temperature of 66 degrees ended up increasing their stores of “brown fat” — a metabolically active type of good fat that helps the body get rid of excess blood sugar and burn calories. But if 66 proves to be a little chilly for your liking, you can try adjusting your thermostat down just a little so you’re more comfortable. Even small adjustments to a cooler temperature can provide benefits while you sleep.
2. Simply Looking at the Changing Colors of the Fall Leaves May Improve Your Mood and Make You Feel More Relaxed.
Fall is perhaps the best season to get out in a park or wooded area just to simply enjoy the scenery. Regina Zopf, MD suggests that when you experience beauty — like the changing fall colors, for example — the medial orbitofrontal cortex part of your brain is activated, which is the same area that contains your strongest thinking functions and your relaxation response center.
3. Catching the Scent of Certain Fall Foods and Spices Can Benefit Your Brain.
While you may need to be mindful of how many calories you end up consuming during the fall, you at least have a good excuse to enjoy the aromas of some of the ingredients you plan to use for cooking and baking. The scent of cinnamon, for instance, has been shown to sharpen people’s minds. And peppermint, while perhaps more appropriate to use as the holidays draw nearer, is another powerful scent that may help boost energy and help you concentrate.
And according to a study conducted with a group of male participants, the scent of pumpkin may stimulate arousal – at least for men.
4. Your Hormonal Responses to the Change of Season May Lead to an Enhanced Sex Life.
Speaking of aphrodisiacs, there’s some evidence that when fall arrives, the brain responds in a way that ramps up feelings for love and intimacy. In a study that tracked the testosterone levels year-round in both men and women, fall ended up being the season when this sex hormone was at its highest (peaking in October and November).
While testosterone is generally more associated with men’s libidos, the hormone certainly plays somewhat of a role in women’s libidos as well. Men also tend to find women more attractive starting in the fall and peaking in the winter according to some research, possibly due to the mix of higher testosterone levels.
Couple these hormonal effects with warm blankets, hot beverages, and maybe a movie on a cold night, and you’ve got yourself the perfect situation for some romance!
5. Cold and Cloudy Weather Clears Your Mind and Boosts Your Memory.
The brisk, fresh air doesn’t just feel good on your skin and in your lungs — the benefits extend right to your mental state too.
In a way, the gloomy fall weather actually wakes your mind up. A study involving two groups of shoppers who were exposed to a combination of 10 impulse buyer items on different days was conducted to see if the weather would make a difference in their ability to remember the items later on. The group that was tested on a sunny, pleasant day was less able to recall what the 10 items were compared to the group that was tested on a cloudy and rainy day, which showed better memorization results.