The alarm goes off at 6am. It’s dark. It was dark when you went to bed, too. It’ll still be dark at 7am when you finish your run. And cold. Just stay in bed and convince yourself that you’ll go to the gym later. It’s minimum effort for maximum snuggles. You make a habit of it and your plans to spend winter building that summer body fade away.
Sound familiar? Don’t beat yourself up about it. According to new research published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology there’s a link between higher vitamin D levels and improved cardiovascular fitness.
What does this mean? In layman’s terms, there could be a reason why working out feels harder during the darker months of winter: your body has less vitamin D.
Our body’s main source of vitamin D is the sun, and clearly, in the depths of a dark winter, our exposure to the big guy in the sky and his relative benefits decreases. The end result could be affecting our athletic performance.
Looking at data collected from 1995 participants aged 20-49 in the US National Health and Nutritional Survey (2001-2004) , the study focused on oxygen consumption as a marker or respiratory fitness. In addition, the study also considered participants vitamin D levels.
What researchers found was that those with the highest levels of vitamin D had a significantly higher level of fitness than those with the lowest levels. While the link is significant enough to suggest a strong correlation, clinical trials will need to be carried out before it becomes official.
Still, if you’re finding it hard to get up and exercise in the morning now that it’s dark, it won’t hurt to try and up your vitamin D levels. Try eating fatty fish like mackeral or salmon, as well as cheese and egg yolks. Or escaping somewhere hot for a winter break. Just remember to wear sunscreen.