The Health Benefits Of Rain

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Oregon is known for being the rainy state with parts of the metro area receiving 64+ inches of rain per year and with many areas on the Coast Range getting 180-200 inches/year (1). For some, rain can be depressing and cause folks to want to stay inside, but science and many Oregonians can prove that Mother Nature’s tears are good for our health. 

Since it would be impractical to skip a workout every time it rains, many people have taken running in the rain in stride. There are many health benefits of being out in the rain. 

1. The air is more pure.

Multiple resources have confirmed that the air is cleaner after heavy rainfall. The reason for this being “that as raindrops fall through the atmosphere, they have the ability to attract hundreds of particles of pollutants like dander, soot, sulfates and bacteria before hitting the ground (2).

For folks who tend to have allergies, going for a run during or after a rainstorm would be most beneficial and lead to the least risk of coughing and sneezing that are caused by air pollutants.

2. You build more muscle and burn more calories working out in the rain.

More ground resistance, like that during rainy or muddy situations, causes you to put in more effort to continue your stride. Just like working out on the beach provides sandy resistance, the same can be said about wet asphalt or loose mud on the field. “When you are walking on a muddy or slipperier surface you are using more muscles to move in your legs and feet” (3). Using more muscles leads to burning more calories and a more efficient workout! 

3. Chemicals released from rain are stress relieving. 

When rain occurs, it causes the soil and plants to release a chemical called petrichor- this smell is composed of plant oils, bacteria compounds and the splitting of atmospheric chemicals to create ozone (5). This chemical is responsible for “the smell of rain” and can help some people feel calm and at ease, especially when partnered with the sound of pouring rain. 

4. Running in the rain can increase your performance and increase your metabolism.

A study conducted by Nihon Fukushi University in 2013 found that energy demand increases in cold conditions (6). When performing any kind of exercise, your body’s temperature tends to increase- if you are working out in colder temperatures, the environment is helping cool your body and maintain a more stable temperature. This allows you to work harder for longer due to a lesser risk of overheating. “If the rain is cool enough that your body has to work to stay warm, you end up increasing your metabolic rate after a period of adaptation, and therefore burning more fat during exercise” (7). Granted, if the temperature is too low and your body has to work too hard to keep warm, that is when your performance would start to suffer. 

Due to the fact that the Portland metro has received over 6 inches of rain in the last 3 days and the forecast showing several more rainy days, now is the time to look at the outdoor showers with enthusiasm. Just remember to take time to warm up when you get back inside to prevent getting sick! 

Resources: 

  1. https://www.movingtoportland.net/portland-information/portland-weather/
  2. https://www.footfiles.com/wellness/relaxation/article/8-healthy-reasons-to-walk-in-the-rain
  3.  https://rusticwalking.com/a-walk-in-the-rain-14-hidden-healthy-benefits/
  4. https://www.livescience.com/37648-good-smells-rain-petrichor.html
  5. https://www.compoundchem.com/2014/05/14/thesmellofrain/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23371827
  7. https://www.fleetfeet.com/blog/5-reasons-you-should-run-in-the-rain
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About Author

Alecya Krivolenkov

Alecya is an Oregon native and Portland State alumni. She is a cannabis, food, and sex education enthusiast. If she’s not in the kitchen whipping up a new recipe, you can find her in the garden trying to grow something for next harvest or in front of the TV binging the latest and greatest. She aspires to write her own cookbook as well as open a multi-facility clinic for sexual trauma survivors. You can follow her cooking on instagram: @kushaipdx

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