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Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder With Exercise And Fitness Routine

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Certain times of year and the change of seasons can bring about various feelings, some better than others. More serious changes in mood can potentially be a sign of seasonal affective disorder, which can affect anything from motivation to appetite. There are ways to alleviate the symptoms of this disorder, including though frequent exercise and a fitness routine that best suits your needs. Exercise has many benefits, such as stress reduction, increased physical health, and more, leading to an overall healthier and happier life.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, refers to feelings of depression that occur with the change of seasons. These feelings generally occur during the winter when the weather is colder and the days are shorter, but they can arise during other times of year as well. The disorder is most commonly experienced in countries that have more extreme changes in season and longer winters. 

Some symptoms of SAD may include lack of motivation, increased sleep, no desire to partake in activities normally enjoyed, weight gain, and others. It is important to note that symptoms may vary depending on the time of year and individual person. For example, SAD symptoms experienced during late spring and summer are less common, but typically include anxiety, weight loss, insomnia, and more.

Exercise and Seasonal Affective Disorder

When the winter blues kick in, frequent exercise has never been more important because of the many benefits it can have on both the mind and body. Fitness routines and other forms of exercise can significantly reduce the symptoms and side effects associated with seasonal affective disorder. During exercise, endorphins are released, which help to boost overall energy and mood during exercise and afterwards. This can help reduce the feelings of sadness, fatigue, or lack of motivation. Exercise also boosts metabolism, which can aid in weight management, reducing the weight gain experienced by many with SAD. 

Lack of vitamin D and exposure to light is often related to the feelings that occur with SAD, and getting outside in the sunlight or exercising in a lit gym can boost mood. Getting out to exercise also encourages interaction with friends, trainers, and others, which can help keep you on track and exercising more frequently with the reassurance of others. Maintaining a fitness level year round can help when these feelings of depression hit and can lead to an overall healthier lifestyle on a daily basis by encouraging habits that positively affect health.

Any type of exercise that gets the heart rate up can be great for health and reducing the symptoms of SAD. Find an outdoor winter activity that you enjoy, whether that be skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, or another form of exercise. If being out in the cold isn’t very appealing, finding time to hit the gym can be very beneficial. Workouts using the public equipment; utilizing the treadmill, bike, or other machines; or taking classes are all great options to grow and maintain fitness levels. Classes, such as yoga, cycling, dance, and more, can be a great way to stay in shape while doing something you enjoy.

The winter blues can be a very serious thing, especially if they have a negative effect on your daily mood and life. The depressive feelings associated with seasonal affective disorder can be hard to overcome, but sticking with a regular fitness routine by hitting the gym or getting outside to exercise can boost mood and pave the way for healthy habits and a happy daily life.

Written by Christopher

Christopher is a local author and musician encouraging everyone to get up, get out, and get fit while working with the Charles Schusterman Community and Fitness Center in Tulsa. For your health!

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