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Early Morning Light Exposure Linked to Lower BMI

Get ready to “fall back”—on November 1st at 2:00 AM, clocks will turn back one hour (that’s right, you get an extra hour of sleep this time of year!). Though the end of Daylight Savings may take away precious hours of sunshine from the afternoon, science shows an earlier sunrise might be beneficial. A 2015 study published in the journal Sleep links early morning light exposure to lower BMI.

Northwest University researchers asked 23 healthy adults to wear a wrist monitor for one week to determine their patterns of light exposure. They also measured their heights and weights to calculate BMI and measured percent body fat. Results showed people who had more exposure to light earlier in the day also had lower BMIs and percentages body fat than people with more of their light exposure later in the day.

A 2014 study by the same group of researchers also determined what time of day you get the majority of your sunlight matters. For every hour later in the day people got the most of their sunlight, there was a 1.28 unit increase in BMI. Researchers note that light is a powerful biological signal and might work by altering metabolism and appetite. Getting longer, more intense and light exposure earlier in the day could be a way to help manage weight.

Embrace the early sunlight and start your day on a healthy note. What better way to get outside and see the light than by going for a morning jog or walk? A combination of sunlight and cardio might help keep your waistline trim, exercising in nature has been linked to less depression and stress and improvements in memory. Get up, get out and get some early sun!

Published October 1, 2015

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