Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder With an Exercise Routine

summary: Exercise can help improve the mood and overall symptoms of those suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Source: Baylor College of Medicine

As the days get shorter and darker, people can feel affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The drop in mood that occurs with a change in light is likely related to reduced levels of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, in the body.

If you’re affected by SAD, it’s important to keep up your exercise routine because exercise lifts your mood. A Baylor School of Medicine expert explains how to switch up your exercise routine during the darker months.

“With seasonal affective disorder, it’s preferable to continue exercising or maybe even increase your exercise,” said Dr. James McDevitt, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and executive vice president and dean of clinical affairs at Baylor.

“Relatively sustained aerobic exercise has a positive effect on mood, but you don’t just have to run or do aerobics – you can do things like yoga, tai chi or meditation, which help with symptoms of depression.”

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Exercising outdoors

If you enjoy running or other outdoor exercise, you can still do it safely before sunrise or after sunset as long as you are visible. McDeavitt recommends wearing reflective clothing, as well as a flashing light that can catch your clothing or shoes. He also suggests leaving your headphones at home and listening to your surroundings and surroundings.

“There is a balance. Find a place that is secluded enough to be protected from traffic while making sure there are enough people around you to feel safe. You can also carry personal protection with you,” he said.

Try to find a predictable running surface, such as a track or well-paved road, to avoid injury when running in low light conditions.

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Exercise indoors

Incorporate resistance training into your home exercise routine using dumbbells or resistance bands. You can duplicate most resistance exercises with just resistance bands.

Other bodyweight exercises that can be easily done at home include push-ups, planks and squats. If you have the resources, you can purchase aerobic equipment for the home, such as a stationary bike or treadmill.

This shows the hand weights
Incorporate resistance training into your home exercise routine using dumbbells or resistance bands. The image is in the public domain

“There is value in maintaining a seasonal routine.” “Even if you regularly run outside in the spring and have to move indoors during the winter, don’t give up on your training,” McDevitt said.

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She also recommends incorporating a mindfulness component into your training, such as participating in a stretching program several times a week or doing yoga or tai chi.

“There are things you can do indoors that not only give you physical benefits, but emotional ones as well,” he said.

It takes about three months of consistent activity to develop a habit. When you stop an activity, you’re likely to extinguish the habit faster than you built it. It’s crucial that you maintain an exercise habit by blocking out some time each day to do it.

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“You have low levels of serotonin and dopamine in SAD, depression or other conditions, but there is a benefit to increasing your neurotransmitter levels through exercise,” McDeavitt said.

If you experience symptoms of depression, seasonal or not, talk to your doctor and get help. Dialing 988 across the United States will connect you to a suicide and crisis hotline, providing confidential support to those in need.

About this seasonal affective disorder and exercise research news

The author: Homa Shalchi
Source: Baylor College of Medicine
Contact: Homa Salchi – Baylor School of Medicine
The painting: The image is in the public domain


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