Now that winter is setting upon the U.S., colder weather is probably going to keep you indoors a lot more. Not only does this mean that jogs around the park and trips to the local outdoor pool are probably out of the question, it also means that you’ll be seeing a lot less of the sun, which can be unhealthy.
We’re not talking about losing your tan. We’re talking about winter-related seasonal affective disorder. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic describe SAD as a type of depression that usually coincides with changes in the seasons. People often feel moody and fatigued when they have this condition . If you’re someone who experiences SAD during the winter, it’s likely to start and stop around the same time every year.
Seeing your doctor to treat SAD is your best option, but there are also ways of dealing with it on your own. According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the most reliable strategies you can use at home is physical activity.
How much do you need?
Experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week. These are exercises that get your heart and lungs working harder to deliver nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood throughout your body. Also, at least two days a week should be dedicated to strength-training exercises for muscles.
Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise include fast walking, water aerobics and bike-riding on level ground, and examples of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity include running, jogging, swimming laps or rapid cycling. During the winter, the bike and swimming pool may both be out of commission, meaning that your best bet for exercising is making the most of your time indoors.
Staying cooped inside all day doesn’t have to feel like a major drag. SheKnows.com offered 10 tips for fighting SAD with indoor exercise that will get your heart pumping and improve your mood.
- Make use of your staircase. The stairs in your home are almost like an exercise machine. In between sets of different drills – 20 reps each of squats, incline pushups, lunges for each side, back rows, bicep curls, seated dips and abdominal crunches – take one trip up and down the stairs.
- Switch off. To change up your routine, alternate between strength-training exercises and plyometric drills, such as split squats and jump shots.
- Meditate. Engage in some kind of meditative ritual, which will help reduce stress levels and keep you focused on your goals.
- Find a way to make it fun. If you find a way to keep yourself motivated, you won’t have any excuse to stop exercising throughout the season. Make sure your physical activity is fun, and if possible, get someone to join you, such as your partner, a friend or your kids. Not only is company nice, but it also makes you more accountable.
- Don’t fall into a rut. Exercising in the winter is no different from the rest of the year. Every four to six weeks, find a new exercise regimen to stop yourself from getting bored.
- Jump for joy!In between strength-training exercises, use a jump rope, run up and down the stairs, or do jumping jacks for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Schedule your strength training. One suggestion is to do these drills on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays while laying off on the weekends.
- Divvy up the cardio. Just because you need 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week doesn’t mean you need to do it all at once. Aim for 45 minutes for three to four days a week.
- Do your chores. Household cleaning and other chores can get your heart pumping.
- Enjoy yourself. This can’t be emphasized enough: Have fun with your exercise routines.