We all love rainy days for diverse reasons. For some, it’s about the coziness they feel when they’re sitting inside, watching the rain. For others, it is the healing abilities of rainfall that soothe the mind, body, and soul.
Rain is an Anxiety Reliever
Walking in the rain can lower your stress levels. The pleasant smell of rain can calm the mind, and release suppressed emotions and thoughts. The scent of rain is known as Petrichor and it is produced by soil-dwelling bacteria, nitrogen molecules, and oils released from plants during dry spells.
Named by Australian scientists, Isabel Joy Bear and Richard Thomas, the word Petrichor was inspired by the Greek words petros, meaning stone, and ichor meaning the fluid that flows from the veins of the gods.
Beyond the anxiety-relief of the rain lies other health merits.
Here are Six Other Benefits of Walking in the Rain
1. Physical activity in cold and rainy weather burns more fats and calories
Although it may sound unbelievable, studies have found that energy demand rises when running in cold or rainy weather. This causes an increase in metabolism.
In a study that was published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine, a group of Japanese researchers had seven healthy men run on a treadmill for 30 minutes. The test was conducted in a chamber that simulated rainy conditions.
They found that physical activity done in cold, rainy weather burns more fat and calories than when done in moderate weather.
2. It helps you exercise longer and faster
Exercising causes your muscles to produce heat and increases your body temperature to about 104 degrees. This may cause your body to suffer and decrease your speed. In order to cool you down, your body redirects blood flow from working muscles to your skin, reducing your performance.
Rainwater could act as a cooling system and prevent you from overheating during exercise. It could also minimize any increase in body temperature. This, in turn, will reduce your risk for heat illness and allow you to work longer, faster, and more efficiently.
Recent research in the Journal of Sports Sciences has found that intermittent facial water spray during exercise improves performance levels.
In the research, nine trained male runners completed familiarization and three randomized 5km running time trials on a non-motorised treadmill in the heat. Intermittently, their faces were sprayed with cool water.
The results showed an improvement in their performance level- they shaved at least 36 seconds off the regular time, and a 9 percent greater activation in their leg muscles.
3. Breathing cleaner, fresher air
Studies have proven that the air is fresher and cleaner after it rains. When raindrops fall, they attract hundreds of aerosol particles of pollutants like soot, bacteria, dander, and sulfate before hitting the ground.
In a study published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, the air was found to be cleaner and healthier after heavy rainfall. The experiment was carried out in the group’s MIT Collection Efficiency Chamber — a 3-foot-tall glass chamber that generates single droplets of rain at a controlled rate and size. It measured the rate at which droplets and aerosols merged or coagulated.
So the next time it rains, pry open that window and inhale fresh air. Better still take a walk and enjoy the weather.
4. It helps you to relax
Water sounds like rainfall and lapping waves are interpreted as non-threats by our brain. This makes them calming. The sound of rain is soothing and can help us release stress .
“These slow, whooshing noises are the sounds of non-threats, which is why they work to calm people. It’s like they’re saying: ‘Don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry,” said Orfeu Buxton, an associate professor of biobehavioral health at Pennsylvania State University.
It can also act as white noise that masks all other noises. Instead of fixating our minds on other sounds, the white-noise effect allows us to focus on the monotone rain sounds instead. This makes falling asleep easier and more relaxing.
5. Your body learns to adapt
Taking your normal workout into the rain is a great way to teach your body to react to different conditions. Changing your workout environment from dry pavement to a wet one leaves your body with no other choice than to adjust. In turn, it will improve your proficiency, and make you quick on your feet.
6. Rainwater is good for your hair and skin
Unlike other sources of water, rainwater is extremely fresh and does not contain harmful particles and minerals. It is the purest form of soft water. It is alkaline in nature and it’s great for maintaining the pH level of your skin. It is also good for your hair since it makes it softer.
- ‘Why Does the Sound of Water Help You Sleep?’ Live Science Adam Hadhazy.
- ‘Effects of rain on energy metabolism while running in a cold environment.‘ PubMed Ritsuko, Ito, et al. Published August 2013.
- ‘Running performance in the heat is improved by similar magnitude with pre-exercise cold-water immersion and mid-exercise facial water spray.‘ PubMed Stevens, CJ, et al. Published April 2017.
- ‘Study explains how rain droplets attract aerosols out of the atmosphere.’ MIT News Jennifer Chu. Published August 28, 2015.
- ‘Petrichor: why does rain smell so good?’ BBC Mary Halton. Published: July 27, 2018