Feeling gentle excitement weave through our body as the weather warms up is a universal human experience. As a species, we've always loved the process of thawing out after a long, chilly winter. And, it turns out, there are scientific reasons why we feel so damn good when summer rolls around.
Fruit ninja those toxins
Ever noticed how the greengrocer turns into the Garden of Eden each summer? In the warmer months, we are blessed with a stunning array of fresh produce, such as cherries, mangoes, grapes ... it's endless!
Happily, fruits and vegies are loaded with helpful antioxidant molecules that mop up toxins, aka free radicals.
These nasties slouch around our body when we're stressed out or hungover, basically trying to make our insides rust.
Defeat them with garden-fresh goods.
Tap into the mind
Drinking water keeps the cells and tissues in our body plump and healthy. In summer, we sweat more (which is actually the body's natural detox system), so we feel thirsty and hit the bubbler more often. This is good, says trainer Tiffiny Hall.
"Water regulates our metabolism, heightens brain function and flushes out disease." Three very good reasons to fill up.
On bright, sunny days, our body gives us a nice hit of serotonin the happy hormone. Dietitian and exercise physiologist Dr Kate Pumpa says that this results in more energy and less anxiety. Sunlight also makes our body produce more vitamin D, which helps us absorb calcium and phosphorous from food. Strong bones and better immunity, here we come.
Warming to exercise
It's not just swimsuit self-consciousness that gets people exercising in the balmy weather (though, vanity is a powerful motivator!). Anthony Leicht, director of the Institute of Sport and Exercise Science at James Cook University in Queensland, says that warmer muscles have more enzyme activity, allowing greater energy production. Translation: it's easier to burn off those cheeky canapés during summertime. Convenient, given all those Christmas cocktail parties.
Let there be light
Higher temperatures are a natural appetite suppressant, which makes sense it's rare to crave a baked dinner while sweating it out in a sauna. According to Pumpa, we tend to eat lighter in the summer months, going for omega-rich fish over roasts full of saturated fat, and iced water instead of hot chocolate. Think of it as nature's way of helping us squeeze into last year's bikini.
Summer of bam
Why do we have more sex in the warmer months? Melatonin is a chemical our brain emits in low light to block sex hormones and put us to sleep. But during long, bright days, our brain doesn't make as much so we feel less sleepy and more amorous. Yep, summer is a natural aphrodisiac.
Sure, summer humidity wreaks havoc with our hairstyle (damn you, untameable frizz), but studies suggest that the flu virus can't survive as well in a humid environment it's that cold, dry winter air that makes flu bugs party hard and transmit easily.
Pumpa says that in the colder months, we tend to huddle together inside to keep warm, which makes it perfect for germs to work their way through the social circle, like viral floozies.
This is not the case on outdoorsy summer days. Another reason is the fact we're more active, so our immune system is in top shape, ready to punch out any germs that dare to enter.