As the days get colder and the nights get longer, everyone’s sweaters come out of storage and you begin to crave hot chocolate, along with cozy evenings spent indoors with friends and family. In addition to sitting in front of the fire, however, you’ll want to remember to make time for exercise. It’s especially important to keep up an exercise routine in the winter because the decrease in sunlight during the shorter months can increase your risk of depression and anxiety – particularly if you live in the great white north.
Natural sunlight provides many automatic benefits to your mental health. In addition to the production of vitamin D, sunlight is also thought to increase the production of serotonin – a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation.
During the winter months, many of us travel back and forth from work in the dark due to modern work schedules. We also tend to spend more time sitting motionless in our vehicles while commuting. This lack of sunlight and energetic activity can damage our mood and our well-being, as both vitamin D and serotonin production are curtailed.
While seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – a form of depression that occurs due to decreased natural light – isn’t very common, most people claim to experience a bit of “the blues” during the winter months. The lack of sunlight can also slow metabolism, causing weight gain and feelings of insecurity. Fortunately, there’s a remedy: physical exercise is extremely beneficial to mental health in the winter, for both boosting metabolism and enhancing mood.
The benefits of exercise on mental health are plentiful. A good workout will release endorphins (the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals), which will help you feel good and take your mind off day-to-day worries. Exercise is a great way to cope with negative feelings and will help you to gain confidence by counteracting the decreased metabolism that we all experience during the winter.
The shortened days may make it hard to exercise outdoors, but a good gym can make all of the difference. Gyms can provide a positive social interaction – including group classes and training sessions to get you started.
If you’re considering joining a gym for the first time, it can be difficult to know where to start. Rather than paying upfront at a gym that requires long-term memberships, you may find it more useful to try a pay-as-you-go gym like Striation 6 because their flexibility can help you figure out what routine works best for your needs. Even a moderate exercise program can help counteract the effects of decreased sunlight.
Finding a gym that caters to your needs has never been easier. Gyms that offer pay-as-you-go options are just like regular gyms only without the pricy contracts. A non-contract gym can provide a variety of classes (including boot-camps and yoga) as well as child care and spa services.
The benefits of exercise on mental health can compensate for the decreased sunlight during the winter. Using a gym with an easier payment option will give you all of the benefits of an exercise program without the expense and constraints of long-term contracts.