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Can Working Out Really Help My Depression?

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Do you feel like your mood drops with the temperatures outside? Do the dark days of late fall and winter leave you in a depressed state? If so, you might want to check out the tips below!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed mental health professional who diagnoses or treats mental illnesses. This information should not be substituted for therapy/counseling or used to treat clinical depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder. These tips CAN help you feel better in general and complement mental health treatment for depression (medicine & therapy). If you feel suicidal, there are many people who want to support you call 988 in the US or visit Suicide.org to find a helpline in your country.


Today we are touching on a topic that tends to pop up all over my social media feed when the holidays approach - Seasonal Affective Disorder, aptly shortened to SAD.


What is SAD?


According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), SAD includes having depression that begins and ends during a specific season every year (with full remittance during other seasons) for at least two years and having more seasons of depression than seasons without depression over a lifetime. Seasonal pattern disorders occur most frequently in winter although they can also occur in summer.

The reason for SAD isn’t 100% clear, but most theories attribute the disorder to the reduction of daylight hours in the winter months. Shorter days and less exposure to sunlight can disrupt both the body’s circadian rhythm & the production of melatonin and serotonin.


Circadian rhythms are our internal clock or sleep-wake cycle. Sunlight is a huge part of how we regulate our own circadian rhythm. In fact, here’s a quick “pre-tip” tip - get outside in the sunlight first thing in the morning or workout in bright lights to get better sleep at night!


Melatonin is a hormone produced by our brain to make us sleepy and our body may produce too much of this during the winter months leaving us low on energy.


Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation. In the winter months we may be in a deficit which can lead to a change in sleep, appetite, memory and sexual desire.


So, even if you aren’t officially diagnosed with SAD you may see some of these changes in your own day to day during this time of year leaving you wondering…


Is hibernation a possibility?? Give me spring already!


The holiday blues are one thing, but , if SAD is diagnosed or you suspect a diagnosis (as touched on above) please seek help from a mental health professional if you haven’t already. The information in this post will complement your treatment and help create an uplifted state when you are feeling down or sad!


So how can intentionally moving your body help someone suffering from SAD or even the holiday blues??


It is supported by mental health professionals. Regular exercise is recommended as a way to fight seasonal depression and even treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication.

Even the tiniest bit can help. You don’t have to join a gym or start flipping tires. In fact, exercises that are continuous and rhythmic and move both arms and legs are the MOST helpful. Things like dancing, weight training, swimming and walking. (I can’t think of a better time to experience The Body Freedom Fitness Studio’s latest program!)

Certain types of exercise can help us relax. Yoga comes highly recommended as a stress management technique. You can reduce negative emotions like anger and fear and boost feelings of joy and well-being. I highly recommend the Restorative Yoga practices in the Body Freedom Fitness Studio.

Moving your body outside can help you get as much natural sunlight as possible. So consider taking a short walk outdoors and leave the sunglasses at home! Even the seemingly low light on a cloudy day can help boost serotonin and improve your mood. If it is just too cold or seemingly impossible (hello moms of newborns) to get outside increase the amount of natural light in your home by opening blinds and drapes to get motivated to move your body indoors! (Some people even find it motivating to paint walls in lighter colors.)

I hope this has convinced you that incorporating some kind of movement into your daily activities is going to benefit you this season. And, don’t worry you don’t have to go it alone. Check out the Body Freedom Fitness Studio and get unlimited fitness classes and full fitness programs you can do anywhere with all bodies in mind!


This week’s LIFE WORK: Get your FREE TRIAL of the Body Freedom Fitness Studio and workout for FREE for 30 days.

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