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Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder With an Exercise Routine

by Ozva Admin

Summary: Exercise can help improve mood and general symptoms for those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Font: Baylor College of Medicine

As the days begin to get shorter and darker, people may feel affected by seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The mood depression that occurs with light change is likely associated with decreased levels of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, in the body.

If you are affected by SAD, it is important to continue your exercise routine, as exercise improves mood. An expert from Baylor College of Medicine explains how to alternate your exercise routine during the darker months.

“With seasonal affective disorder, you want to continue to exercise or even increase exercise,” said Dr. James McDeavitt, professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and executive vice president and dean of clinical affairs at Baylor.

“Relatively sustained aerobic exercise positively affects 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.”

exercise outdoors

If you like to run or do other exercises outside, you can still do it safely before sunrise or after sunset, as long as you make yourself visible. McDeavitt recommends wearing reflective clothing and a flashing light that can catch on clothing or shoes. He also suggests leaving your headphones at home and listening to your environment and what’s around you.

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

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

exercise indoors

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

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

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

“There is value in maintaining your routine seasonally. Even if you run regularly outside in the spring and have to move indoors in the winter, don’t stop exercising,” McDeavitt said.

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This shows the robotic dog.

She also recommends including a mindfulness component in 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 also emotional benefits,” he said.

It takes about three months of doing an activity consistently to develop a habit. When you stop the activity, you are likely to kill the habit faster than you created it. It is crucial to maintain an exercise habit by setting aside some time for it every day.

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

If you experience symptoms of depression, seasonal or not, talk to your primary care provider and seek help. Dialing 988 in the United States will connect you to the Crisis and Suicide Hotline, which provides confidential support for those in danger.

About this seasonal affective disorder and exercise research news

Author: homa shalchi
Font: Baylor College of Medicine
Contact: Homa Shalchi – Baylor College of Medicine
Image: The image is in the public domain.

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