Light. Whether it’s the vibrant brightness of a spring morning or the clear gold of autumn, we’re powerfully affected by the sun.
Think you need to be outside to get its benefits? In short, you don’t need to be deprived of it when exercising. At FirstLight, West London’s multi-sensory spinning studio, we use sun technology to help you work harder, feel better and stay focused. All our indoor cycling courses feature it. Here’s the science behind our light-infused workout at our studio:
Light makes us more alert IN CLASS
As light reaches our eyes it becomes focused on the retina, a layer of tissue that lies at the back of our eyeball. Here, cells convert the light into electrical pulses, which are transmitted to the pineal gland, deep in the centre of the brain. When light levels are low – in the evening and at night - the pineal gland starts producing the hormone melatonin. This hormone prompts us to feel sleepy. When light levels are high – in the morning and afternoon (or in the presence of sun technology) - the pineal gland stops producing melatonin. So, light exposure wakes us up and helps us to concentrate. The perfect compliment to your spinning routine.
Light makes us happier WHEN WE WORKOUT
Our moods are also affected by melatonin. To make melatonin, the pineal gland uses up our stores of another brain chemical – the neurotransmitter serotonin. Darkness = high melatonin and low serotonin. Light = low melatonin and high serotonin. The reason that affects the way we feel is because serotonin plays a vital role in regulating mood. In fact, serotonin is so important that it’s often called ‘the happiness hormone’.
High light levels = high serotonin levels = happy workout!
Bright light enhances performance
The jury is still out on the exact relationship between light levels and physical performance, but there’s a growing body of evidence to show that bright light has a discernible effect on strength and endurance. A recent study carried out by researchers from the University of Basel in Switzerland has found that exposure to bright light enabled elite cyclists to work harder and travel further. The effect was small but statistically significant and feeds into research from earlier studies, which suggests that light improves muscle strength and increases energy output. One thing’s for sure, incorporating light into your spinning workout brings a multitude of health benefits!
Riding on sunshine? Don’t it feel good!