The symptoms are unmistakable: Wandering thoughts. Uncontrollable urge to be outside. Odd sense of well-being and, dare we say, friskiness.

As infectious as it seems, spring fever isn't anything you can actually catch, but it may have some basis in biology.

"People really do get psyched up for springtime," said Dr. Jon Abramowitz, associate chairman of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Abramowitz said people are susceptible to a concurrence of nature - sun and warm weather erasing the dark winter - which triggers a mood boost.

Sunshine alone gives many a lift, particularly if they suffer from a form of depression that deepens in the lowlight winter months.

And, as temperatures rise, outside beckons with long walks, runs, bike rides, Frisbee games, gardening. The extra activity generates endorphins, a natural chemical that works like opium in the brain.

Stoked on sunshine and exercise, people smile. They relax. They look good.

"When you're feeling good, you're more likely to be attracted to others, and they're more likely to be attracted to you," Abramowitz said.

And that is spring's most contagious feature.

- McClatchy-Tribune

Latest videos