Why and How Does Light Exposure Compliment Fitness
Humans are creatures of habit, and we thrive best with a regular routine. It’s a vital part of general physical and mental well-being, and fitness. You may have found that in between all of life’s demands, sticking to a routine is tough. There is one key component that can help you stem the tide of chaos and protect your routine- and fitness- but it’s rarely talked about. That component is light exposure.
Humans have evolved to rise and sleep in concert with the patterns of the sun. Our internal body clock is ruled by light exposure, and when we fail to get appropriate sunlight (or we are exposed to too much artificial light), we create a domino effect that can dramatically disorder our circadian rhythm – the rhythm by which all of our body processes are governed, from digestion to mood.
All animals have circadian rhythms, and humans are no different. When we rise with the sun, that blue wavelength light exposure kickstarts cortisol production- leading to a leap in our appetites and energy levels. As the day progresses, sunlight exposure keeps us alert (and contributes to the production of neurotransmitters, like serotonin), and as it wanes, and we are exposed to red wavelength light, our bodies cycle up production of melatonin- the hormone that prepares us for restful sleep.
If we were still living lives based largely outdoors, we’d have more carefully tuned circadian rhythms, but these days, most of us live and die by the artificial light bulb- which has in no small part contributed to the modern day epidemics of fatigue, depression, and obesity.
The good news is that a few simple changes- and some help from modern technology- can help us include lighting in our environment in a way that boosts our fitness routine- rather than destroys it!
Creating a Fitness Routing with the Help of Smart Lighting
So why is traditional artificial lighting so bad for your health? It all comes down to excessive blue light exposure. Most of our artificial, indoor lighting is classed as high energy ‘blue’ light (light with wavelengths between about 450 and 495 nanometers). Modern day electronics are especially guilty of this- they produce massive amounts of blue light, and we often carry those with us to bed! No wonder so many people have issues with insomnia.
Excessive blue light exposure does more than make it hard for us to sleep, though. It can also contribute to mood disorders, including anxiety and depression, and it also overstimulates our appetites- contributing to excess weight gain. While blue light will pep you up, too much of it will make maintaining your fitness an uphill battle- and we should work with our bodies, not against them!
Luckily, you can shift the balance and fight back with a few simple changes to your daily light exposure- both natural and artificial.
A Daily Lighting Routine for All-Around Fitness
Let’s describe a healthy fitness routine that incorporates human centric lighting- from waking to sleep.
- Morning: If possible, wake with the sun. Some folks invest in automatic blind openers, but if that’s not in your budget, consider a light alarm clock- an alarm clock that produces blue light, which will slowly increase in brightness until you naturally awake.
- Workout: Before breakfast (which should be one of the bigger meals of the day), hop on that treadmill! Scientists find our bodies have high levels of cortisol and human growth hormones during this period, making out workouts more effective. Extra knock-down effects include a diminished appetite throughout the day- and a tendency to sleep earlier in the evening, too. Make sure to ensure your workout space has plenty of cortisol-boosting blue light, too- whether that’s from big windows letting in morning sunlight, or from artificial means!
- Breakfast: Post workout, you’ll want to indulge in a big, healthy breakfast, including lots of iron, protein, and vitamin C heavy foods. Scientists have found that a large breakfast helps us regulate our metabolism- and control our hunger- throughout the day.
- Work: Most Americans work in an office. Keep that blue light exposure up to stay alert and focused! If you can, place your office by a window, and if not, shoot for an office table lamp that offers plenty of blue wavelength light.
- Lunch and Dinner: Try to eat earlier in the evening, and try to be consistent with your meal times in general- human metabolisms run best when we’re eating within a 12 hour window. If you’re trying to limit your appetite, eat in a more dimly lit setting- low energy red wavelength light has an appetite dampening effect.
- Preparing for bed: Put down your electronics and turn off your TV a good hour before sleep. If you can, choose lights for your bedroom that are red wavelength- this will ensure the production of melatonin, which will prompt sleep. It’s also recommended you keep your bedroom cool and dark to prevent light exposure from disturbing your sleep.
Notice that light plays a huge role throughout our day! You can even get more creative by adding red light therapy (brief exposure to large amounts of red light, via a lightbox) to your workout sessions, if you so wish-a brief red light therapy session before a workout can prevent muscle damage- meaning you get more out of your workouts- an red light therapy post workout can contribute to a shorter recovery period after!
Artificial Lighting Solutions
You may be wondering about what sorts of lighting solutions can help you achieve the above routine. BIOS has a few products that work- but we encourage you to do your research and find the best fit for yourself that you can!
For your bedroom, consider lighting like the SkyView Wellness lamp. This lamp allows you to cycle through sunrise, daytime, sunset and nighttime presets, all designed to mimic the sun and provide the appropriate lighting for any given time of day- from early morning blue light exposure to nighttime red light.
Work and Dining Areas: Like the SkyView, the SkyBlue BR30 also offers circadian stimulating cyclical lighting options- allowing you to light your kitchen for prep and work for well, work- and dim them to help you control your appetite- and wind down at the end of the day!
Home Gym: The SkyBlue A21 is a great source for artificial blue light in a home gym- this sort of blue light exposure can help you maximize the benefits of your workout!
Coming Full Circle: Lighting for Fitness
Our society is plagued by a general lack of fitness, and that is due in no small part to the disruptive technology- and artificial lighting- we live with. But you can make your journey to physical fitness considerably easier with some small adjustments to your at-home and in-office lighting. Don’t sleep on the benefits of full spectrum light exposure! You can get started on improving your circadian rhythm and boosting the effectiveness of your fitness routine today!
What benefit is there to consistent mealtimes when it comes to your workout routine?
Keeping a consistent meal schedule is linked to weight loss, increased energy, and a reduction in risk factors for chronic disease; it is largely believed that this is owing to the effect of meal times on our circadian rhythms and metabolism, which are closely linked. Keeping to a consistent mealtime will help you get the most out of your workout.
What color of light is best for working out in?
For increased energy and wakefulness, you’ll want to make sure your home workout space is outfitted with blue spectrum lights- they stimulate cortisol production and keep you energized.
How do daylight-imitating LEDs boost your energy?
LEDs that imitate daylight, by releasing blue spectrum light, prompt your body to boost cortisol production- which increases energy and alertness.
How can I mimic sunlight?
You can mimic sunlight relatively easily with modern full spectrum lighting! Check out BIOS’s A21 and BR30 bulbs for examples of adjustable, full spectrum lights that include blue light- perfect for mimicking sunlight.