Sunday, April 14, 2024

Feeling a bit down during certain times of the year? Check out these simple tips to boost your mood by staying active!

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During the colder, gloomier winter days, many folks face a tough time with their mental well-being. Some might even get hit by a kind of sadness known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. This brings symptoms like feeling tired, losing interest in things, having trouble sleeping, and just feeling down.

Whether you’re going through SAD or just want to keep away the blues, putting in a bit of physical effort can help you make the most of your body’s natural power to lift your mood during the darker days of the season.

It’s not a secret that doing regular physical activities is good for your body. It lowers the chances of having serious health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. But moving your body also helps a lot with stress, anxiety, and feeling sad.

The cool thing is, it doesn’t take much effort to feel better mentally. Walking at a good pace and doing other not-too-hard exercises can make your mind healthier. That’s what the American Psychological Association says.

Here are four easy ways that science supports to make you more active, improve your mental health, and make winter feel less gloomy.

Important note: If you’re feeling really sad during winter, talk to your doctor. They can help you and check if there’s anything else causing your feelings. Ask your doctor before starting any new exercises.

Take one step at a time
When you’re feeling down, the idea of exercising might seem like too much. But just taking one step after another can help you start feeling better. Walking is one of the easiest and best exercises you can do. Wear good walking shoes and pay attention to how you walk, and you’ll be on your way to feeling better in both your body and mind.

Don’t let winter weather stop you from walking. If you can, use a treadmill or walk inside at a mall. Some malls open early for people who want to walk before the stores open.

Take a stroll every day, and don’t stress about how much or how often you do it at first. Following the World Health Organization’s advice of 2.5 hours of moderate exercise each week brings the best physical and mental health benefits. Yet, even a bit of activity regularly can boost your mental well-being. Start by taking that first step, and know you’re heading in the right direction.

Enjoy your free time
You don’t have to hit the gym to stay active. Think about activities you like doing in your spare time that you may not have thought of as exercise before. Any activity that gets you up and moving counts as being active. Whether it’s bowling, dancing, or even axe throwing, schedule regular time for your favorite active hobbies. Just an hour of leisurely exercise each week, no matter the intensity, has been proven to reduce the risk of future depression according to research.

If you’re not into any hobbies right now, try something new. Join a dance or fitness class just for fun. You can find local classes online on Facebook or apps like Meetup. If you’re a parent or grandparent, play with the kids, whether it’s in the living room, backyard, or at the playground.

Boost your mood by lifting weights
Doing exercises that make your heart beat faster isn’t the only way to feel better. When you need a mood boost, try lifting weights. Studies show that strength training, where you use resistance or weights, can really help reduce feelings of sadness.

In a study from 2018, scientists looked at 33 trials with over 1,800 people to see how lifting weights affects feeling down. The results showed that doing strength exercises really helped to make people less depressed. It didn’t matter if someone was not feeling well, how much exercise they did, or how much they got stronger – the benefits stayed.

If you’re new to lifting weights, it’s important to start slow and pick the right weight. You can begin with just one dumbbell, doing different exercises that work your whole body.

Using your yoga mat can make you feel better, especially on gloomy days. People who do yoga have said it helps their mood, and research agrees. A study in 2023 found that adults with serious sadness who did heated yoga felt a lot less blue than those who didn’t.

You can find yoga classes in lots of places. If you can’t or don’t want to go to class, you can do yoga at home by following simple routines online.

No matter what kind of exercise you pick, doing a bit more physical activity can really lift your spirits during the colder months.

 

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