In normal times, a sunny day can lift your mood while a stormy one can darken it, but new British research shows that weather had little effect on people’s spirits during the pandemic.
“We know that lockdown restrictions, and the resulting impact on social life and the economy, are linked to at least two major negative public health consequences — a reduction in physical exercise, both indoors due to the closure of gyms and outdoors due to mobility restrictions, and deterioration of mental health,” said study author Apostolos Davillas, from the Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia.
“Previous research before the pandemic hit revealed links between weather conditions and well-being. And our own research has shown that the first wave of the pandemic saw more people suffer mental health problems,” Davillas said in a university news release.
“We wanted to find out if adverse weather conditions during the first lockdown led to worse mental health and less outdoor recreational activity — not least because lockdown restrictions after a certain time [were] designed to permit limited outdoor activity,” said study author Ben Etheridge, from the University of Essex’s Department of Economics.
The researchers analyzed different sources of data and “found reduced park mobility during the initial period of the first U.K. lockdown. Just after the first lockdown was announced, park mobility reduced by about 50% in London, compared to the pre-lockdown January-February 2020 period,” Davillas said.
“But when we looked at weather data, we found that — contrary to popular belief — daily or weekly weather conditions did not exacerbate the mental health consequences of the pandemic,” he said.
“This surprised us because we expected to see that bad weather might exacerbate poor mental health, and sunny weather might lift people’s moods — particularly as it’s easier to get out of the house for exercise or to see other people outside in good weather,” Davillas said. “We did find links between park mobility and weather over the same period. In other words, people were going out to the parks more in good weather.”
The study was published June 15 in the journal Health Economics.
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SOURCE: University of East Anglia, news release, June 14, 2021