Living Seasonally Is a Great Way To Reap Longevity Benefits Year-Round

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When we think about what’s important for our longevity, there’s a specific set of life areas to prioritize—sleep1, stress2, movement3, relationships4, and food5—that can make all the difference in your well-being. Time and time again, researchers have found that prioritizing these realms leads to fewer physical and emotional health issues that can hinder healthier aging. But making sure you're hitting all these areas day in and day out can be tough. Living in alignment with what nature offers in the spring, summer, fall, and winter is one way to be sure you're following good longevity practices without getting bored by following the same routine.

Experts In This Article

What does this mean exactly? Living seasonally is about staying connected with what’s happening in nature—and orienting some of your routines and activities accordingly. This could look like making warm, nourishing meals and taking time to de-stress with cozy nights indoors during the winter, or taking daily walks to observe the flora and fauna waking up in the springtime. When nature acts as your calendar, it can be easier to work healthy habits organically into your day.

At one point, living seasonally was just living. For ages, humans have structured their behaviors and habits around nature as a means to survive. For example, adapting to colder climates after migration from warmer ones proved essential to our extinct relatives, says Laura Buck, PhD, researcher at the Research Centre for Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology and lecturer in evolutionary anthropology at Liverpool John Moores University. “Winters in high and low latitude regions far from the equator provide complications such as short growing seasons, short days for foraging, precipitation (both rain and snow), and low temperatures, and these novel pressures required our extinct relatives to adapt biologically and behaviorally and we have continued to do so to this day,” she says.

While many of the adaptations our early ancestors made were biological, they also underwent behavioral changes, too. Failing to adapt to seasonal cold6 was the difference between life and death. For example, Homo heidelbergensis, the early humans who lived 200,000-plus years ago, may have depended on hunting animal prey to be able to consume all the fats and calories needed to withstand cold temperatures, and there's some evidence8 that early hominids built campfires for cooking and warmth.

"When we pause to attune to each season and the messages it holds, we can mindfully adjust our internal and external worlds to support our well-being."—Carla Marie Manly, PhD, clinical psychologist

However, our modern selves have been desensitized to those seasonal shifts, which some experts say has impacted our well-being. “Winter, spring, summer, and fall each have symbolic and practical messages for humans—and all living creatures, and in today’s post-industrial age, we have lost some of our connection with the natural flow of the seasons and the lessons they bring,” says clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD. Modern technology has made it much easier for us to adapt to the seasons, ensuring we don't have to change our behaviors too much as the seasons shift. (For example, we have grocery stores stocked with meat, dairy, and produce from all seasons year-round; indoor heat and air conditioning ensures precise temperature control; cars makes transportation in any kind of weather easy and relatively safe.)

“As a result, our mental and physical health may suffer from our departure from some of the tenets that have supported human well-being for thousands of years. When we pause to attune to each season and the messages it holds, we can mindfully adjust our internal and external worlds to support our well-being,” Dr. Manly says. Of course, many modern developments have made our lives easier and safer in numerous ways, but there is still some benefit to carrying over some practices from the past.

While there isn't research specifically backing up the idea that living attuned to the seasons is better for our health, experts in these five realms say doing so may be a way that encourages good habits year-round. Having the novelty of seasonality keeps things exciting and doable, and makes it more likely to prioritize these areas—which is proven to benefit longevity.

Don’t worry if you live somewhere without much seasonal change, because the key to living seasonally is to do it to the best of your ability with what you have at your disposal. That is to say, it’s possible to do it even if you don’t have white winters and leaf-filled autumns. Read on for tips from experts about how to align yourself with the seasons in a way that benefits your longevity in five areas: stress reduction, social connectedness, eating well, movement, and sleep.

The benefits of living seasonally in five realms key for longevity

Stress reduction

Stress of any kind is detrimental to your physical and mental health, so reducing it as much as possible is key to living a long, healthy life. Stress is sadly a year-round occurrence, but each season has its unique quirks that can that can put a strain on your mental health—take for example, fewer hours of daylight that can pique mood changes in the wintertime, or being uncomfortably hot (and thus irritable or less active) during a scorching summer.

Looking to the seasons is a great way to “mindfully slow down to tune into and honor your personal needs within the ebbs and flow of each season,” says Dr. Manly, which can help you cope with whatever gets thrown your way. “When we align ourselves with what each season naturally offers and our personal needs, we’re able to enrich our lives rather than unconsciously inviting in stress,” she says.

Her favorite way to do this is to introduce mindfulness practices to help cope. And while mindfulness itself is an evergreen activity, specific practices can be tailored more specifically to the demands of the season. Winter can be a time to connect with “the warmth of our inner worlds and other more deeply” through activities like journaling, reading, and celebrating holidays, Dr. Manly says. “Springtime offers the opportunity to slowly create new growth and vitality, and the heat of summer brings an abundance of connective activity and external pursuits,” she says.

Just remember not to overextend yourself trying to take advantage of what each season offers, because that’s a recipe for stress, too. "When we ignore or push what the psyche and body truly need in any season, we’ll subject ourselves to unnecessary—and often highly damaging—levels of stress,” she adds.


It’s important to find a way of moving that you enjoy regardless of the season, says Laura Quinn, head Pilates trainer for Alo Wellness Club. Research shows that exercising 90 minutes per day cuts your all-cause mortality risk by 34 percent. But even sticking with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services's bare minimum amount (150 minutes of moderate movement per week, which translates to about 22 minutes of exercise per day) reduces your mortality risk by 21 percent. Not too shabby!

When you’re trying to think of what you might do to move each season, lean into the calendar and season you’re in currently. “Take advantage of swimming in the summer, marathon season in the fall, indoor strength training in the winter and outdoor hikes in the spring,” she says. Take a page from the exercise habits of residents of the Blue Zones and try gardening, biking, tai chi, or even dancing. You could also boost your benefits by taking these activities outside and reaping the health rewards of time in nature9 if weather allows.

The benefits of walking in particular are manyfold—it's one of the best things you can do for your overall health and longevity because it boosts cardiovascular health, disease prevention10, and also offers meditative, calming benefits that are key for reducing stress. It’s also an activity that can be adapted to fit nearly any climate or season, too. “During the hotter months, consider going for walks in the cooler parts of the day, like early mornings or evenings, and when winter sets in, think about using a treadmill or finding indoor walking spots,” Quinn says. Go on a relaxing and calming walk (with your coat, of course) to peep fall leaves, or spring flowers, or with a summer iced coffee or hot chocolate in hand.


Getting enough quality sleep is one of the best things you can do to live longer, because it allows your body plenty of time to undergo repairs and processing that can minimize your risk of getting chronic illnesses. And the cumulative effects of quality shut-eye are potent for longevity: a 2023 study found that people who had low-risk sleep patterns translated to an additional 2.4 years of life for women, and 4.7 years for men1.

In fact, the changing seasons greatly affect our ability to rest. Consider the loop we’re all thrown for when daylight saving time ends, or the struggles of trying to get to bed when it's too hot in the summertime. Sunlight also cues your body's circadian rhythm12 as to when to be alert versus when to wind down for sleep. The varying degrees of how much light you get each season can greatly affect your mood and sleep, says Neil Paulvin, DO, board certified longevity and regenerative medicine doctor. No matter what the weather is, he advises making time in the morning to go outside and expose yourself to sunlight to get your sleep cycle moving.

But there are some ways to align your slumbering to the changing seasons that could be beneficial. Take advantage of the extra hour of sleep afforded to us after daylight saving time ends by pushing your bedtime a bit earlier or starting your nighttime routine earlier to maximize your zzz's. Spring and summer, which are typically warmer in many places, also offer their own benefits. "When it's warm out, it's definitely easier to wake up in the morning, but you want to make sure you maintain your hydration and keep the room and the bed cooler with [cooling sheets or a fan]," says Dr. Paulvin.


How you fuel your body and nourish yourself plays a major role in your longevity, too. Getting your fill of various fruits and vegetables, which are chock full of vitamins and minerals, has been linked to less incidence of chronic disease that can result in death13, like cardiovascular issues and cancer. Fiber-rich diets have been found to reduce the risk of premature death14, too.

You may even glean some additional benefits from eating produce seasonally. Beyond nature being a natural guide for what's available and likely to taste best each season (like tomatoes and berries in the summertime), fruits and vegetables tend to be at their peak ripeness and most nutrient dense close to when they’re harvested; eating these foods closest to their peak may mean you're getting more of their nutrients. Eating foods that grow well in your climate and region typically also means they travel shorter distances to you, thereby lessening the environmental impacts of transport.

However, it’s important to note that not everyone has access to fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables year round, as food apartheid in the U.S. has ensured inequitable access to grocery stores and farmer's markets. And food "seasonality" is really region-specific. If the primary marker of where you live is lots of snow, it’s possible that there aren’t many seasonal crops growing at all during certain parts of the year—making food grown in other climes essential to getting your nutrients in.

While eating seasonal produce may have a slight nutritional benefit compared to not doing so, the difference is negligible, says Maya Feller, RD, CDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and author of Eating from Our Roots: 80+ Healthy Home-Cooked Favorites from Cultures Around the World. She says what’s most important is consuming fruits and vegetables as much as you can in whatever way that you can. You’ll always benefit from eating a strawberry even if you don’t eat it in the summertime.

Don’t worry about perfection when trying to eat seasonally, she advises, because every part of the country has a different growing season which affects what's available and in season. “Based on where people live, if you want to eat according to your growing season, I often recommend looking for frozen, jarred, freeze-dried, dried, boxed, or canned items that would be in season at that time,” says Feller. These items are harvested and processed at the peak of their freshness, so you’ll still benefit from their nutrients. Many of these options can be cheaper and more accessible than buying fresh seasonal produce, too.

Consult the USDA Seasonal Produce Guide for some intel on what's generally in season at various times of the year. From there, you can start to incorporate some of these foods into your diet using Feller’s tips above. Feller lives in the Northeast, and she recommends pumpkin and butternut squash soup in the fall. You could whip up a refreshing berry and spinach smoothie using frozen or freeze-dried produce in the summertime, too.

Social connectedness

Social connectedness is one of the most essential elements of well-being that ties into longevity. Having plenty of deep, supportive ties through friends, family, lovers, and acquaintances helps stave off the devastating effects of loneliness.  There's a reason why the U.S. Surgeon General cited widespread loneliness as a concerning public health issue—a large body of research finds that loneliness and social isolation have devastating impacts on your physical and emotional health, and makes you more vulnerable to developing chronic health issues. In fact, one large study found that lack of strong social ties increases your risk of premature death from all causes by 50 percent.

“When we view the core tenets of longevity as an invitation to tune into our personal needs, we can create year-round practices that honor our well-being,” says Dr. Manly. She adds that when we take care of ourselves, “we are better able to be present for others in the most loving, genuine ways possible,” which only helps to strengthen these ties.

"When we view the core tenets of longevity as an invitation to tune into our personal needs, we can create year-round practices that honor our well-being."—Dr. Manly

One benefit of lining up your social life with the season is that you have built in ideas for activities and occasions to meet—ever invited friends to a spring picnic or a Friendsgiving? To do this, find plenty of time to connect with your social circle and even bring new people in—you can even combine this with many of the other suggestions here, like eating a seasonal meal together or going on a hike.

The longevity benefits of romantic partnership are often overlooked, but research shows that having love in your life can be a major boost to your health and well-being. Having a romantic partner who practices habits supportive of longevity can make you more likely to do so, too, and this deep social tie goes a long way toward fulfilling our needs for connection. Whether you’re partnered or dating around, you can find ways to keep these romantic fires burning in each season.

According to Jess Carbino, PhD, and former sociologist at Tinder and Bumble, seasonality is one way mark your life's events and inject some novelty in this realm. The passing seasons offer opportunities to get together and make memories as a couple, which helps add the ingredients for romantic love16—attachment, caring, and intimacy—into the mix.

Need some ideas? You might also try alphabet dating, which means doing activities that correspond with each letter of the alphabet, to add some newness that aligns with the season. Why not go apple picking in the fall (A), garden together in the spring (G), go on a hot chocolate crawl in the winter (H), and swim at the beach in the summer (B)? Whatever you choose to do, know that living with the seasons in mind is one way to help make sure you'll see many many more years of seasons.

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
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  8. Roebroeks, Will, and Paola Villa. “On the Earliest Evidence for Habitual Use of Fire in Europe.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 108, no. 13, 2011,
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