North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Health

March 18, 2009

Weather can have noticeable effects on mind and body

Health Watch By Steve Mullenix

The North Jefferson News




Ask a child to draw a picture one rainy day and have him or her to do the same on a sunny day. Then, observe the differences.

The one with the rain drops falling from the top of the page will most likely have the stick figure behind a window with a frown. The other most likely will have a big yellow ball in the upper corner with the stick figure being outside, and most likely sporting a big smile. I bet even the dog — if they draw one — may be smiling as well.

We as humans are inherently sympathetic to our environment. Even in our music we associate mood with the weather. The lyrics of the B.J. Thomas song, “Rain Drops Keep Falling on my Head,” include lines about having trouble getting out of bed, sleeping on the job, the blues and crying.

The Carpenters in their song, “Rainy Days and Mondays,” sing about how nothing seems to fit, not belonging and nothing to do but frown.

Research has shown that low levels of humidity, temperature and hours of sunshine have a great effect on mood. Higher levels of humidity result in lower scores on concentration and increasing reports of sleepiness.

Rising temperatures lower anxiety and raise mood scores. As the hours of sunshine increase, so do the scores that measure an individual’s optimism.

It seems that mood is not the only thing that is affected by the weather. Who has not heard someone say, “It’s going to rain; I feel it in my bones.” Well it seems that there is some scientific evidence to back this claim. Several studies have indicated that barometric pressure and cooler temperatures play a role.

The largest study supporting this theory was presented at the American College of Rheumatology conference in October 2004. The conclusion: “Changes in barometric pressure have a strong association with increase in keen pain. Cooler temperatures were also consistently, although weakly associated with increased pain”.

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