THE ORIGINAL PURPOSE OF THE WORLD TIME ZONES “SPRINGING FORWARD” AN HOUR each year to Daylight Saving Time (DST), such that sunrise and sunset each occur an hour later by the clock, has always been explained to me in terms of farming needs.
It turns out there is a more complicated explanation and that farmers generally opposed the move. The very first official use of DST was instituted by the town of Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay) Ontario, in Canada, according to timeanddate.com, and it happened on July 1, 1908. The reason given was to “save energy and make better use of daylight.” A few more Canadian cities followed the lead of Port Arthur in the spring of 1914 (Regina, Saskatchewan) and 1916 (Brandon and Winnipeg, Manitoba) the site explains.
Having lived much of my life in the northern tier US state of Michigan and visiting Canada occasionally, I am familiar with the lowness of the sun in the sky during the short days of winter around the Great Lakes region. Thunder Bay ON is at the western edge of the Eastern Time Zone, like my home now is, and we celebrate the some of the latest sunsets of the USA each summer, almost at 10pm! To me it’s no wonder my northern neighbors in the same zone came up with this great idea. We’re tired of cold and snow by February’s end here, hoping the winter will be winding down soon, and this artificial step toward summer seems like pure inspiration.
However, the real original reason for whole countries deciding to make the time switch makes more sense than the tale about helping farmers bring in their crops or milk cows, or Canadians tired of winter (that’s my assumption). It was war.
The need to conserve fuel for war purposes caused the change to be made by Germany and Austria in 1916, in the middle of World War I. Less energy would be used to generate electricity for artificial light and more would be available for moving troops etc. Soon thereafter England and France did the same, and “War Time” became popularized across the globe in other countries.
The timeanddate.com piece credits a New Zealand scientist with first having the modern world idea back in 1895 and a British builder with suggesting it’s use in his country in 1905 and introducing a bill to do so before Parliament. However, this site an others explain the Romans may have been all over this concept in ancient times. Apparently, the idea is not all that new. There’s much more to the time change story that can be explored elsewhere online (see below).
Can athletes and exercisers use DST to benefit our fitness lives? It seems golfers and baseball lovers have been enthusiastic about DST because it allowed more sport playing time. Rather than saving energy I too hope occasionally to burn a bit more by using the later sunset to get in an additional pleasant physical activity. .
My weekday work clock won’t change. I’ll still wake at the same time for morning exercise before starting on routine computer and house chores. But some days I will be able to anticipate an extra hour or more of daylight after dinner that can be enjoyed outdoors. Rather than my winter habit of setting aside the time to watch nightly news or a gameshow, “Jeopardy”, I’ll use DST for a walk or bike ride, timed to catch the descent of the sun in the western sky when possible. On weekends the possibilities for more movement and exercise are almost limitless when paired with lengthening daylight hours
Although in the early days of its world-wide implementation DST was called “War Time”, in the United Kingdom and the European Union it’s referred to as “Summer Time”.
RUN & MOVE HAPPY!
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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