F.I.T.T. Column- Exercise to Fight the Winter Blues
By Whitney Neal
Winter is in full force. As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, the “winter blues” can make even the happiest person a little down. Ailments such as the common cold, constant congestion, seasonal depression (often called seasonal affective disorder), and increased fatigue are often associated with the months of December through March. But perhaps the biggest problem during these winter months is the tendency for people to be inactive. Motivating yourself to exercise in winter can be difficult when it is dark earlier and the weather is chilly. But exercising in the winter can be hugely beneficial to your health. Here are five steps to incorporate exercise into your winter routine and help fight the winter blues:
1. Change your internal dialogue. This starts by understanding that you have what it takes to fight the winter blues. Empower yourself with thoughts such as, “I can and I will get healthier this season.”
2. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” There is no “right” answer to this question. Only an honest, thoughtful, and realistic answer is required here. Do you want to exercise to lose weight? Improve your strength? Keep up with your grandkids? Structure your answer based on what you would like to do, and not what you think you ought to do.
3. Visualize yourself accomplishing your goal. Visualizing yourself as thinner, stronger, or more confident, for example, conjures positive and pleasant emotions. Because your journey this winter will depend on the image you develop, construct your goal and your image with care.
4. Do not feel compelled to fit into a generic exercise program. Instead, pick a program that fits your specific needs and characteristics. For example, if you prefer a social atmosphere to exercise in, pick a class such as Zumba, spinning, or swimming. You could even take up a seasonal sport such as snowboarding or skiing. If you prefer something more private, join a local gym and ask about personal training. Don’t feel like leaving the house? Buy an exercise DVD or a video game console.
5. Think about ways to incorporate exercise into your daily activities. Parking further away from your work building or stretching while you are waiting for dinner to cook are just a couple of convenient ways to incorporate exercise into your life. Exercise does not have to involve spending hours at the gym three times a week. Instead, the experience can be tailored to what you enjoy doing and what is practical for your schedule.
Chertok, G. (2012). ACSM | Articles. Acsm.org. Retrieved 2 February 2016, from https://www.acsm.org/public-information/articles/2012/01/05/ward-off-the-winter-blues-with-exercise