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Health & Fitness Beat the Winter Blues with Regular Exercise

Kim Duke

By Kim Duke

NETA & AAFA Certified Trainer

Winter has arrived, and for many of us, the transition from summer to fall and fall to winter is never easy. You still crave those warm summer nights and the idea of seeing a temperature below your age is frightening. For those of you struggling to stay motivated to do anything more than curl up on the couch, exercise, in any form, can actually help clear your winter blues.

Be creative and don’t stop just because the snow has fallen. If you’re a person who loves to exercise outdoors, use the change of weather as a time to try something new and change up your own workout plan.  Prepare for winter by buying a package at the local fitness studio or purchase some personal training sessions at the gym.

If you’re used to exercising after work or in the evening, try to make adjustments and workout in the morning. At the end of the day, you’re more likely to opt out of exercising if you’re tired and stuck in traffic because of bad weather. Exercising in the morning gets your workout out of the way so you relax at night and get cozy on the couch.

Winter weather offers a wide array of fun activities to do that can involve the whole family. Try a new winter sport like ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing or even sledding. Taking up a new activity that has an expiration date can be motivating because in a couple months, your opportunity will have melted away. Incorporating a new activity in your life is beneficial for you and your family. Take a group ski lesson with some friends or spend an afternoon running through the snow and sledding with your family. Any way to stay active is a good way.

An exercise DVD makes it easier to exercise at any time in any season. Research some DVDs online and find the type of exercise you would like to do at home. If you have limited space, try a Yoga or Pilates DVD because it involves a lot of mat work, which is great for apartment living. If you have more space, try a full body workout that incorporates strength training and plyometrics. Find what type of workout works for you, in the space that you have available. Many libraries carry exercise DVDs that you can rent out, so call your local library and see what they have available.

Research has shown time and again that regular exercise strengthens your immune system so it can fight off bacterial and viral infections. This becomes particularly important in winter when colds and flu rear their ugly heads.

When you exercise and get your blood pumping, immune cells circulate through your body more quickly, helping them seek and destroy infections. But this boost only lasts for a few hours, so exercise needs to be regular for long-term effects.

And finally, we all know that sunshine seems like a limited commodity during the winter months, so when you see it, enjoy it.  Bundle up and get outside. There’s a reason it’s called the sunshine vitamin. While there are a limited number of foods that can provide your body with vitamin D, the easiest source is from exposure of bare skin to sunlight.

During summer, a short exposure of 10-15 minutes is plenty, but in winter, sunshine can be harder to come by, especially if you are snuggled up indoors. So that’s why it’s VERY important to get outside and get moving and smile at the sun!

Sunshine makes strong bones, and keeps your immune system strong. It can also boost positivity, and help prevent high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.

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