October 29, 2010

Extending Daylight Hours May Improve Health, Protect Environment

Changing clocks to allow for more daylight hours during the afternoon could make people happier and healthier, and it could even help save the planet, according to a new study published in the latest edition of the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

The paper, which was written by Mayer Hillman, senior fellow emeritus with the Policy Studies Institute in London's University of Westminster, suggests adding one additional hour to Greenwich Mean Time year-round and two hours during 'Daylight Savings' or 'British Summer Time.'

The proposal discussed by Hillman, known as Single Double Summertime (SDST), would create approximately 300 additional hours of daylight each year, even in northern locals such as Scotland. That would encourage more outdoor activity throughout the year, thus allowing people to avoid health problems and stay in better condition, according to the British researcher.

"Research shows that people feel happier, more energetic and have lower sickness rates in the longer and brighter days of summer, whereas their mood tends to decline during the shorter and duller days of winter," claims a Thursday press release from the BMJ, which notes that some of the benefits of increased physical activity include "a lowered risk of coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and some cancers."

"Advocates claim that this proposal"¦ would allow UK citizens to make better use of the available daylight and bring a host of social benefits," Hillman writes in a version of the paper published on the Policy Study Institute's website.

Among the other benefits a switch to SDST time would offer are increased road safety, an increase in tourism, and reductions in both electricity consumption and carbon emissions due to a lowered need for artificial lighting, he asserts.

In a statement, Hillman calls the SDST proposal "an effective, practical and remarkably easily managed way of achieving a better alignment of our waking hours with the available daylight during the year"¦ It must be rare to find a means of vastly improving the health and well-being of nearly everyone in the population--and at no cost. Here we have it."


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