Weather Effects Mood and Memory

The winter blues is a common phenomenon among Americans. You've likely experienced it yourself; you feel low, have less energy, and may even become depressed. It has long been known that some individuals suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder where they become depressed in fall or winter. Weather affects mood, but did you know the weather may also affect memory?

In a study conducted at the University of Michigan, researchers divided participants into three groups. Participants either spent time indoors, spent time outside during unpleasant weather, or spent time outdoors in nice weather. The researchers discovered mood and memory are affected by the weather. More specifically, most Americans who spent time outside in 72 degree weather experienced more pleasant mood and improved memory than those who spent time indoors or those who spent time outside during unpleasant weather.

It was also discovered that participants experienced more depressed mood and no memory improvement if they spent time outdoors in temperatures significantly below or above 72 degrees. The same result was found for those individuals who spent time indoors on nice days. The researchers hypothesized individuals who remain indoors on pleasant weather days become bored or resentful indoors.

Finally, the University of Michigan study revealed participants needed to spend at least one half hour outdoors on nice days in order to achieve better mood and improved memory.

Given this information, Americans can easily improve their mood and memory. Spending a mere half hour outdoors on nice days is simple. Try eating outdoors at lunchtime, take a walk before or after work in the spring or summer time. Walk your dog or a neighbor's dog or take the dog to a dog park and watch him/her run around for a while. Alternatively, play with your kids in the park or have a family picnic lunch.

These activities will not only improve your memory and your mood, they may improve your health. Exercise lends many benefits to one's overall health and quality of life, for instance. Spending time with your pets or kids outdoors will give you an opportunity to bond with your loved ones, which will also improve the quality of your life.

The next time a mild day rolls around, spend a half an hour of your time in the sun. It will benefit you in so many ways. You never would have guessed elevating your mood and your cognitive capabilities would be so simple!

Published by Sierra Koester

Sierra Koester is a freelance writer and blogger with expertise in mental health and pets. She graduated from DePauw University in 2004 with a BA in Psychology and minor in Religious Studies.  View profile