Why Exercise Beats the Winter Blues. (This post contains affiliate links)

1. Exercise Beats the Winter Blues by Getting Your Blood Pumping

Morning is the best time for getting brain work in because I’m fresh, just had my coffee and I have all sorts of ideas. By 1:30-3:00 I start to feel sluggish and in need of a brain break. In the past I took naps, but that just made me feel worse. Now when I start to get drowsy/anxious, I head to the gym. I always feel better afterward. I’m more alert, relaxed and ready to head back to the drawing board.

Science supports this. Studies have shown that people with impaired cerebral blood flow have more depression.

2. Exercise Beats the Winter Blues by Releasing Endorphins

One of the main reasons you feel better about yourself after working out is because getting the blood pumping releases the “feel-good” hormones known as Endorphins.

“Exercise decreases the stress hormones such as cortisol and increases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural feel good chemicals, and when they are released through exercise, your mood is boosted naturally. As well endorphins, exercise also releases adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine.” Quote from https://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/Exercise_Endorphins

3. Exercise helps your body use vitamin D.

We live in the Pacific Northwest, so we get a limited number of high quality sunlight, especially in the winter. As a result, many people in this area struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a disorder that results in depression during certain times of the year and has been associated with lack of sunlight.

Exercise has been shown to not only relieve SAD, but to help your body use vitamin D.

People even in sunny areas like southern California can suffer from vitamin D deficiency.

I have only lived in the Oregon for about 12 years. I came from sunny southern California, but I have struggled with depression for 30 plus years. It wasn’t until I moved to Oregon that I discovered the depression I’ve suffered from in the past was mostly related to vitamin D deficiency.

I take vitamin D regularly now. As a result, most of my depression has lifted. However, it wasn’t until I started working out daily that my depression symptoms were completely alleviated.

This makes perfect sense, because vitamin D levels are higher in people who exercise regularly. 

4. Exercise helps you feel better about yourself.

I don’t know about you, but I always feel better when I do something I know is good for my health, especially if it’s something that is a challenge or that helps me achieve my goals.

5. Exercise releases nervous tension and relieves anxiety.

I get this nervous “I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself” feeling often in the afternoon, especially when my brain shuts off and I feel like I “should” be doing something. After I workout, not only do I feel better knowing I made the healthy choice, but my nervousness is relieved.

Hitting the track takes energy. I simply don’t have enough excess energy to let things bother me after I’ve had a good workout. Thus, problems that seemed insurmountable before a good workout seem like not as big a deal.

And according to Mayo Clinic (and many other sites), this is a scientific fact.

6. Working out increases your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories for the next 24 hours.

Not only will you burn extra energy when you hit the gym, but you will find that working out regularly will give you more positive energy. You will feel more motivated to do the other things in your life that need doing.

Losing weight, especially when we’re carrying extra poundage, is definitely good for the mood!

7. Working out helps you sleep better

Unless you work out right before bed. If you prefer nighttime workouts it’s common to have more difficulty sleeping at first. But this is only temporary. After your body gets used to the change in activity, you will actually sleep better. If you work out earlier in the day this should not be a problem in the beginning.

Okay, so we’ve established that exercise will help you beat the winter blues. However, just running to the gym or the park without planning ahead can interfere with your goal of feeling better.

So please consider the following suggestions before going out to exercise.

3 Important Things to Remember to Help Make Your Workout Successful

1. What you eat before and after your workout is Important.

Low carbohydrate diets are trendy right now. However, if you want to have the energy you need to complete a successful workout, you need some carbohydrates and protein.

  • Glycogen is a storage form of carbohydrate. This is what your body needs for energy during a workout. When not enough carbohydrate has been eaten through the diet prior to your exercise, or if you have been restricting carbohydrates excessively, you will not have sufficient carbohydrate. As a result, you will not perform at your best during your workout. Thus, make sure you have a light meal with carbohydrates (click here for free table) within 2-3 hours of starting your workout.
  • Carbohydrate has also been shown to improve immunity during a workout as well. (More on that later).

2. It is Important to get enough water.

I can’t believe how many people I see at the gym sweating like crazy, who have absolutely no water nearby. So many times I have wanted to say something.  But I refrain because they’re people I don’t know.

However, it really bothers me when I see people sweating like crazy with absolutely no water nearby.

  • Oftentimes when people exercise, they think that losing weight during the exercise session is a good thing. However, it is not.
  • When you weigh yourself before a workout and after a workout, your weight should not change.
  • If you lose weight during a workout, this means you need to drink more water to prevent dehydration. For example, if you lose a half pound, you need to drink 8 ounces of water.
  • If you gain weight, they may mean you drank too much water. And this is much more common than people realize, especially among major athletes like marathon runners. So next time, try drinking a bit less water and weight yourself again to measure intake.
  • The best gauge of whether you need to drink water during a workout is when you feel thirsty–however, it’s not fail-safe.
  • Like I said before, weigh yourself before and after.
  • Weight loss is a long-term goal of working out–NOT a short-term goal.

3. It is Important to stretch before and after you workout.

This is another thing that I see too many people neglecting.  I would say that well over ½ of the people I see work out at the gym do not stretch. This not only increases the risk of injury, but it will interfere with progress. Click here for a few quick stretching exercises you can do before and after exercise.

If you’re interested in more specifics on calories burned while doing various forms of activity, I found a great table. Click here for an extensive list of calories burned during various types of exercise and activities.

Click here for some helpful exercise and diet apps that I like and that I posted about previously.

And remember, “Exercise Can be Anywhere.”

I PROMISE I WILL CREATE SOME WORKOUTS FOR YOU AND YOUR KIDS TO DO.

In the meantime, click here for 10 beginner workouts.

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