Exercise away the winter blues

A proven way to shake off the winter doldrums!

Winter turns some people into sluggish creatures who just want to hibernate until spring. Short days marked by bone chilling wind, ice and snow blur into long nights that only feel colder. It’s no wonder so many people fall into a frozen funk.

A proven way to shake off the winter doldrums? Exercise!

Working out releases “feel-good” brain chemicals, called endorphins, that lift your mood and reduce anxiety. Exercise also keeps your cardiovascular system strong, strengthens the heart muscle, lowers blood pressure and LDL “bad” cholesterol, and boosts HDL “good” cholesterol.

Thirty minutes or more of exercise three to five days a week can significantly improve your outlook, according to the American Heart Association. And you don’t have to go to a gym, hire a coach or buy any equipment. Here are some easy ways to get started:

  • Walk it off. Bundle in layers and take a brisk walk. Better yet, wake up early for a climate-controlled jaunt through the mall. Who knows — you may meet a walking buddy!
  • Get dance fever. So you think you can dance? Why not! Crank up the music and let loose. You can stretch, warm up and cool down with slow favorites, and work in some cardio with faster steps in between. Who cares if you’re not ready for prime time — just enjoy yourself.
  • Roll and stroll. Some skating rinks have special times set aside for just that — pushing a stroller while you’re on skates. It’s just as much fun for the kids as it is for the parents!
  • Bring it home. Take a class when the time suits you. Exercise videos are free at the public library. If you have cable TV, check for fitness channels; many are available on demand.
  • Get creative. Use items you already have in your home to do some strength training. Try holding soup cans while you do a biceps curl or using a kitchen chair to complete some squats.

Exercise alone won’t fight off extreme cases of the winter blues, which could be classified as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Talk to your doctor if these symptoms have you feeling frozen: anger, sadness, helplessness or hopelessness; loss of interest in your regular activities; and changes in appetite, weight, energy or sleep habits.


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