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Exercise for more than to be fit especially in the Winter!

Written by: Michelle Fleming, Blueprint Health and Fitness

 

Experiencing the Winter blues? You aren’t alone!

The NIH reports that approximately 6% of the American population struggle with seasonal affective disorder and a much higher percentage of people report feeling down, lethargic and unmotivated during cold weather months. Without regular sunlight, our body’s hormone levels can shift, [and often times:] melatonin levels, immune system function, pain tolerance, and sex drive decreases (Valentines Day is just a few days away buddy! 😘). These and so many other things like overall energy levels all compound to have a profound effect on our mental state. If moving to the sunshine state isn’t an option for you right now, then consider exercise as one of the best tools to help you through these gray, cloud covered Winter months. Regular exercise improves everything listed above that a lack of sunlight negatively affects.

More about the mind + body connection: Sports psychologists are increasingly gaining access to athletes in order to teach them about the connection between our bodies and minds. A great example of this is Michigan QB JJ McCarthy’s pre-game preparation that includes meditation and mantra practice. After struggling with anxiety and depression, he realized that in order for his body to perform on the field with excellence, respecting that the body and mind work together was key. It is the same for the rest of us who aren’t playing college sports; prioritizing our physical health improves our mental health AND the reverse.

I LOVE MY JOB. It is so rewarding and one of the best parts of my job is witnessing our clients’ moods improve after each workout and long term transform their mental health. Watching people who haven’t been taking care of themselves get active and because of this change find more energy and zeal AND report higher levels of joy, contentment and drive to live their best lives is the good stuff. Although this is anecdotal, I see it weekly with my own eyes. It is a domino effect; taking care of our physical health improves everything listed above that a lack of sunlight affects. Get moving and keep moving every day and your body & mind will thank you for it.

 

See below for a get started plan.

Start here:
Commit to 3 days a week for 30 minutes. Early before work/school or evening after the work/school day. Put it on your calendar & set an alarm. Prepare the day before by setting out your workout clothes & pre-workout snack.

Beginners: Walk for 30 minutes.

For those ready for the next level: Join us a Blueprint for classes that include cardio and strength. Aim for 3 weekly Signature or Strength classes.

After 1 month, add a 4th day. (Trainer tip: read James Clear’s Atomic Habits for advice on consistency and discipline).

Watch your mental state, physical health and fitness level ALL improve. You won’t regret it.

Michelle Fleming
Blueprint Health and Fitness, Program Director
ACSM Exercise Physiologist
ACSM Exercise is Medicine
RRCA Certified Running Coach

Interested in reading more about peer reviewed articles connecting exercise to mental health? Check out this report from The American College of Sports Medicine: https://journals.lww.com/acsm-csmr/fulltext/2010/07000/the_effect_of_exercise_on_mental_health.8.aspx

Here are two related podcasts to check out: Huberman Lab Understanding & Conquering Depression from April 2021 AND Huberman Lab Using Light to Optimize Health