Humidity. You may have seen this word pop up on TV when you check the weather – but not really taken much notice of it (all I want to know is if I’m going to need my umbrella or sunglasses). But should you be taking notice of it? It is determined by the amount of water vapor in the air with 40-60% being advised as optimum for health and comfort. Read on to discover the 5 Ways Humidity Affects Your Physical Health!
1. Temperatures seem hotter
When the humidity of the surrounding air is high, sweating as a means to cool down is less efficient. When sweat does not evaporate from the skin (as it will do in normal humidity) the body does not cool down. Thus, you still feel hot and the delicate balance of your core temperature may have risen slightly too.
2. Affects your workouts
High humidity can make your workouts seem harder, you may feel lethargic and be depleted of any motivation– meaning you may not be able to exercise at your usual level (if at all). To cool the body down, blood will be sent near the surface of the skin. Therefore, less blood is making its way to the muscles, providing less oxygen and hence making it seem harder. The heart has to work more too, as the fluids lost from sweating make the blood thicker, overall making the same level of exercise require more effort.
3. Increases risk of illness
Low humidity can increase the risk of developing illnesses. When exposed to this for long periods of time, mucous membrane (which provides a protective barrier) can dry out and become inflamed making you more susceptible to infection. Several studies have also found that a humidity above the ideal range coincided with an increase of infection most likely because bacteria and viruses thrive in higher humidity.
4. Causes skin problems
Low humidity means there is less water in the air – more common during the winter months when central heating is used. This dry air zaps the moisture from the skin leading to dry skin vulnerable to cracking or skin disorders. A study in Japan found that 42% of workers who worked in buildings with low humidity suffered from skin irritations and 33% suffered from atopic dermatitis (eczema), inflammation of the skin and itchy, red, swollen and cracked skin.
5. Affects your eyes
Our eyes need to retain moisture and our tear ducts are very good at doing this. However, in environments with low humidity the moisture evaporates faster than we can replace it leading to dry, irritated or itchy eyes. Over time the symptoms will get worse unless the humidity level is raised or the moisture of the eyes is replaced.
So there you have it; this climate condition may not be something you thought could affect so many different aspects of your health or to these extents. Whilst it’s usually within the optimum range (especially here in the UK) it is useful to know what that number means and know whether you need to make any changes to your environment so you and your body can operate at your best everyday. The easiest way to measure humidity is to buy and use a hygrometer. Question for our international visitors, what’s the humidity like where you come from, how does it affect your body and how do you handle it? Tell us below or @ KeepFitKingdom !