Exercise Helps Beat The Winter Blues and stave off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). If you’re affected by seasonal depression, then exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. Here’s how to beat it.
The cold winter weather and the shorter days keep many of us inside during the winter. In addition, frigid temps and icy sidewalks don’t exactly make it easy to go out for a walk or run. Exercise is usually the last thing from our minds as we hunker down and wait for the misery to end.
To make matters worse, seasonal depression begets more frequent, longer term depression. Depression negatively impacts sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behavior, and self-esteem. But, according to Summit Medical Group, “many people can manage or avoid SAD with 30 to 60 minutes of exercise and 20 minutes of exposure to sunlight each day” – Regular Exercise Protects Against Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) (Here’s why you want to get adequate sleep)
30 Minutes a Day?
That’s right, just 30 minutes of exercise per day can help you feel less depressed. While that may seem like a lot to someone who isn’t active at all, just realize that this can mean a nice walk during lunch, walking the dog before or after work, or even hitting the gym. No matter what you choose, grab a partner and go have some fun.
When we don’t feel like exercising we need to find motivation elsewhere. Here are some tips to help you get started on the right path:
- Eat lots of whole foods: Whole, unprocessed foods, like fruits and vegetables, provide us with plenty of vitamins and minerals that boost our energy naturally
- Limit alcohol: alcohol can leave you feeling tired and sluggish by interrupting your sleep and leaving you dehydrated
- Hydrate: Dehydration saps energy levels and disrupts sleeping patterns. A good rule of thumb is to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day.
- Sleep: Disrupted sleep can leave you more tired in the morning that you were before going to bed. Make a good night time routine and look to get 8 hours of sleep per day
Build Good Routines Around Exercise
- Be consistent: Try to exercise at the same time each day and hold yourself accountable. For example, if you skip exercising, then you have to skip on your preferred activity for that day.
- Build in a reward system: Do something nice for yourself if you hit your weekly goals such as take a long warm bath by candlelight at the end of the week or go get a foot scrub.
- Dress warmly: Wear layers, scarf, hat and gloves when appropriate so you can enjoy the fresh air without battling the cold.
- Plan Alternatives: Inclement weather such as rain and heavy snow or ice can limit our outdoor activities. At these times, have a plan to go to the gym or do some home exercise. But remember, try to get outside as much as possible in order to enjoy the benefits of natural sunlight
- Get help from a fitness professional: Adding another layer of accountability by hiring a personal trainer can really boost compliance. A good trainer can make exercise both fun and extremely rewarding. See the article on how to choose a personal trainer here.
This Time You’ll Hit Your Goals
These quick tips are more than adequate to get you started on the path to success when so many other people have failed. Set your goals in your sights, create an action plan, slide it in to your busy life where it makes the most sense and then track and measure your results on a weekly basis.
Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below and we’ll do out best to answer each and every one of them.
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Tony Bianchino is a Nationally Certified Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist
See more about Tony on our website Out Run Your Fork.com
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