An estimated 10 million people living in the United States suffer from seasonal affective disorder, more commonly known as SAD. This form of depression occurs as a result of a change in seasons. The most prevalent form of SAD occurs during the harsh winter months. If we’re suffering from the winter blues, exercise may relieve some of our bothersome symptoms. The following 5 mental health benefits of exercise should be enough of an incentive to start breaking a sweat at our gym this winter.
Exercise Relieves Stress
Winter can be a particularly stressful time in people’s lives. Merely dressing can be a stressful undertaking if we have to put on several layers of clothing in order to venture outside. Then, we may also have to shovel snow before we can leave our driveways. Thankfully, exercise is a great way to relieve the stress associated with the winter months. A good workout at the gym helps us get our minds off of the stressors that are bothering us. Breaking a sweat can also relieve anxiety, which is a common contributor to stress.
Working Out Stimulates Mood
Some of us get into a poor mood on the first day we have to shovel snow from our driveways. We may remain in this funk until the end of spring. Fortunately, working out can stimulate our moods. The reason for this phenomena stems from the release of positive chemicals in our brain. Exercise also decreases certain chemicals in our brain that lead to depression. Breaking a sweat raises our body’s temperature as well, which can make us feel happier.
Gym Sessions Promote Peaceful Sleep
Some of us have difficulty regulating our sleep during the winter months. This problem is especially bothersome when we live in locations of the country that experience several hours of darkness during the short winter days. Spending time at our gyms during the early morning or afternoon hours can help us sleep better. Getting the proper amount of sleep each night is vital to our mental health. While exercising during the morning or afternoon is preferable, working out at night can also be beneficial to our sleep. However, to promote good sleep, night exercising should consist of light activity such as:
- Tai chi
- Stretching exercises
Getting Fit Improves Self-Image
Our self-image sometimes suffers during the winter months. We may not feel particularly attractive while wearing 2 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, a heavy jacket, and a knit hood. However, merely working out regularly at our gym can improve the way we perceive ourselves. For instance, we may gain self-confidence every time we complete a particularly difficult workout.
Working Out Increases Energy Levels
The cold temperatures outside often sap our stores of energy. However, we can increase them by getting regular exercise at the gym. Once our heart rate is up, we will have the necessary energy required to brave the elements and carry out our daily activities. Cardiovascular exercise is particularly beneficial for improving our energy reserves. Any form of cardiovascular exercise will work including:
We may not be able to control the weather outside. However, we may be able to limit the effects of SAD by regularly working out at the gym. The aforementioned 5 mental health benefits of working out should motivate us to drop whatever we’re doing and head to our gym today.