Winter Blues and Exercise
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are links between depression, anxiety, and exercise—although the links aren't quite clear, there are benefits to working out and easing the symptoms of anxiety and depression! Studies have shown there's a positive correlation between improved mood and exercise, which could come from a multitude of things. Exercise can help increase energy levels, help you get enough sleep each night, and helps you socialize with people. Exercise also improves mood by increasing serotonin (a hormone that helps your brain regulate mood, sleep and appetite) and increasing levels of endorphins (which are natural mood lifters).
People who exercise regularly have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. Moderate intensity exercises can help the immune system, as well as prevent other health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. An extra advantage this time of year is that exercise can boost your immune system.
For people who do suffer with depression, seasonal or otherwise, exercise can be a great coping mechanism.
Bouts of exercise don't need to last all day, but the recommendation is around 150 minutes per week. A good goal to set is about 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. If you don't have time in your schedule for a full 30 minutes, shorter bouts of physical activity may have a similar influence. If you can go for a 15-minute walk, there is an added bonus of getting fresh air! As always, it is a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine to make sure it is safe for you.