Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Beat the Winter Blues with Physical Activity

To maintain well-being, it is important to stay physically active in the winter. During the cold, winter months there is less sunlight, shorter days, and more perceived barriers and as a result it is common to stay inside more than usual. This can lead to less vitamin D, less physical activity, decreased Serotonin levels, and the Winter Blues.

Being physically active does not mean you must perform vigorous exercise to get health benefits.

Moderate activity, such as housework, brisk walks & gentle yoga is beneficial.
  • Recommended: moderate aerobic activity 30 min./day; 5 days/week (all Americans)
  • Recommended: resistance/strength training 2x/w (all Americans) 
However, the more active, the more health benefits! You can do this by increasing the frequency, duration and/or intensity of the activity safely.

Consistency is key!

It may be harder to find motivation during winter, but these simple tips below can help you stay happy and healthy year round!

Common Causes & Risk Factors

  • Genetics- Seasonal Affective Disorder, (SAD), about half million Americans diagnosed/year
  • Lack of sunlight= less vitamin D= less serotonin, (“feel good” chemical, released during exercise. controls appetite, mood & sleep. dark winters decrease levels of it)
  • Lack of physical activity- cold, short, dark days & other perceived barriers (time, gym location, fatigue, etc.)

7 Tips & Solutions

GET OUTSIDE- vitamin D: errands, gym, short walks
  • Will connect to nature; appreciate seasons/warm house 
  • “Even on cloudy day, 1 hr. exercise=2.5 hrs. light treatment!” (Bates College SAD study)
  • Recommended vitamin D: 10 min/day, unfiltered

INDOOR GROUP EXERCISE CLASS-  Zumba, yoga, pool classes & more!
  • Motivation, fun, relaxing, group support, rewarding, warm pool water 

TRY A NEW ACTIVITY- challenge yourself
  • Automatically feel accomplished, confident, more happy

GRAB A FRIEND- consistency & fun
  • Plan future spring/summer race together
  • Hold accountable

TAKE ADVANTAGE- winter activities
  • Pond hockey, pond fishing, ski, snowboard, cross country ski, snow tubing, snow shoe hikes, trail run, walks, skating, curling, shoveling, yard work, play with kids/grandkids in snow

PREPARE- plan spring/summer goals: getting in shape for summer
  • Hire personal trainer: help support/motivate you, achieve your goals safely & effectively!

FROM HOME- redecorate house interior/ clean out your space
  • Buy small heat lamp
  • Make bucket list- physical activities to try in future & hang up on wall

Blog post by Erin Tollios.

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