7 Cardio Ideas to Reduce Seasonal Depression This Winter
Seasonal depression, or the “winter blues,” affects approximately 10 million people every year in the United States. The cause of this phenomenon is still relatively unknown, but it’s possible that it’s due to reduced exposure to vitamin D and sunlight and/or reduced serotonin (a hormone that regulates mood and sleep) levels. You can combat the dip in your mood by using strategies such as light boxes, dawn simulators, aromatherapy, and exercise.
Aerobic exercise (i.e. cardio) is actually said to be the most effective form of exercise in treating seasonal depression. For all of you out there who despise running, don’t worry! There are many forms of aerobic exercise that don’t involve jogging of any kind. Check out the list below for some alternative types of exercise to cure your winter blues.
Swimming is an excellent form of aerobic exercise that takes some of the pressure off of joints and may be a good fit for those with joint limitations. The heart rate stays elevated while you tone your entire body and improve your heart health. Most local YMCAs offer an indoor pool at an affordable rate with optional swim classes.
Almost any gym that has fitness classes will likely have a spin class of some sort. These classes vary from location to location but allow the participant to go at their own pace. This high energy environment might be ideal for those who are looking for someone to motivate them. Cycling also takes some pressure off of the knees and might be a good choice for someone with knee problems.
This high intensity dance workout is a great aerobic exercise for those who are looking for a way to make exercise more fun. No prior dance experience is necessary.
Kickboxing is a cross-training workout that combines boxing with elements of karate. It improves balance and coordination, and can also help with stress relief. This is a great class for those looking to improve their overall cardiovascular health.
5. Weight Lifting
While weight lifting is not typically thought of as an aerobic workout, it can be transformed into one. You can do this by lightening the weight and going for more reps with shorter breaks in between. Lifting until your muscles fatigue or “give out” is another way to get some aerobic exercise using weights.
Walking at a faster pace can be an easy way to get more aerobic exercise. Consider taking the stairs rather than the elevator, walking to work, or taking the long way to the office restroom. Aim to get at least 10,000 steps a day.
Most gyms come equipped with a rowing machine in their cardio rooms. The machine is low to the ground and has a seat that slides back and forth. To use, place your feet flat on the pedals and tighten the strap. Then push yourself backwards using your legs while simultaneously pulling the handles toward your chest.
Seasonal Depression Can be Challenging…
…but finding your own strategies for lifting your mood this winter is key. WCS health coaches are trained to help individuals set and meet health goals that work for them — including what their needs are for that particular time of year, based on their mood and personal history.