HEAL Classic: The effect of season and weather on physical activity

In 2007, Trish Tucker and Jason Gilliland published a study entitled: “The effect of season and weather on physical activity.”

Weather conditions can strongly promote or deter physical activity behaviours. This study reviewed previous studies to explore the effect of season, and consequently weather, on levels of physical activity. The researchers found thirty-seven primary studies (published 1980–2006) representing a total of 291 883 participants (140 482 male and 152 085 female) from eight different countries and considered the effect of season on moderate levels of physical activity.

Upon review of the evidence, the researchers found that levels of physical activity vary with seasonality, and the ensuing effect of poor or extreme weather was identified as a barrier to participation in physical activity among various populations. Therefore, previous studies that did not recognize the effect of weather and season on physical activity may, in fact, be poor representations of this behaviour.

The researchers argue that future physical activity interventions should consider how weather promotes or hinders such behaviour. Further, they propose that providing indoor opportunities during the cold and wet months may foster regular physical activity behaviours year-round.

Citation: Trish Tucker and Jason Gilliland. “The effect of season and weather on physical activity.” Public Health (2007); https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2007.04.009.

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