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Sports Med. 2006;36(6):473-85.

Seasonal variations in health-related human physical activity.

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Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Henry Cotton Campus, UK.


There are profound fluctuations in climate that occur within the annual cycle of seasonal changes. The severity of these changes depends on latitude of location and prevailing topography. Living creatures have evolved means of coping with seasonal extremes. Endogenous circannual cycles, at least in humans, appear to have been masked by mechanisms employed to cope with environmental changes. Physical activity levels tend to be lower in winter than in summer, mediating effects on health-related fitness. In athletes, seasonal changes are dictated by requirements of the annual programme of competitive engagements rather than an inherent circannual rhythm. Injury rates are influenced by seasonal environmental factors, notably in field sports. Season of birth has been related to susceptibility to selected morbidities, including mental ill-health. In age-restricted sports, there is a date-of-birth bias favouring those individuals born early in the competitive year. Trainers and selectors should acknowledge this trend if they are to avoid omitting gifted individuals, born later in the year, from talent development programmes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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