06/24/2012 10:16 am ET

Heat Wave Exercise: Gallup Poll Reveals Warm Weather Boosts Fitness

For those of us in the midst of this sludgy dog day heat wave, there can appear to be little upside to sweltering weather. But according to the latest Gallup survey data, there is a silver lining to the smog cloud: we're exercising more.

The difference is small, but significant: in May 2012, when temperatures reached record levels, 55.2 percent of U.S. adults exercised for 30 minutes a day, at least three days per week compared to more-temperate April, in which 53.9 percent did the same.

But May exercise rates weren't just an improvement over previous months, they beat out comparable rates for May 2008 through 2011.

A previous look at data since 2008 found a general trend toward more exercise during the record-breaking heat of the mild 2011-2012 winter season. Typically, exercise rates lag during fall and winter months and speed up in spring and summer.

The data was collected from 1,000 adults as part of the Gallup-Healthways Wellbeing Survey. While there's been a general downward trend in exercise rates since 2008 (Gallup researchers attribute this to the recession), 2012 rates have remained consistently at a four-year high.

One question the researchers did not explore is what, if any, is the inherent connection between warm weather and exercise. So we'll put it to you, readers. Do rising temperatures get you going? If so, how? Give us your motivation tips in the comments or Tweet @HealthyLiving!