Stress Doesn’t Take A Winter Break: Tips for Staying Active

winter-walk-AlanCleaver-flickr.jpg

The weather outside may be frightful, but the fire (or couch) is quite delightful. That is why many of us who live where the four seasons are very distinct tend to exercise less in winter.

Unfortunately, stress doesn’t take a holiday during the holidays, and the winter doldrums of January and February bring their own brand of stress. When we should make a point of exercising regularly, we are often found sitting and snacking.

So, this is a reminder that any type of exercise, any activity that gets us moving, will relax our body and mind. Focusing on the body’s movements helps us shed the day’s tensions whether we shoot some hoops, swim laps, or participate in a yoga class. Quite often, the relaxed concentration we get from exercising stays with us and smooths out the rest of our day.

Six Tips To Continue Working Out This Winter

Movement stimulates the manufacture of endorphins, one of our body’s mood-lifting neurotransmitters that promotes a sense of calm well-being. Exercise is also associated with reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression, partly because it helps us sleep through the night. Plus, taking good care of yourself contributes to a sense of empowerment and confidence.

  1. If you have been doing more sitting than exercising for awhile, consult with your physician before starting an exercise regimen. If the doctor okays you for exercise start with light to moderate workouts and gradually build your endurance.
  2. Make sure to pick an exercise activity that you enjoy. If you hate getting in the water it is unlikely you will become a regular swimmer, no matter how good it is for you. If you thrive on variety, rotate your exercise between three or four favorite activities.
  3. Most of us do not exercise when we leave it to chance. Designate certain times during the week for physical activity, or make a personal commitment to walk the stairs at your office building during your lunch or afternoon break. Finding a friend or family member willing to exercise with you three times each week can be very motivating.
  4. If you find your motivation sagging, try a new activity. If you typically run or do aerobic dancing, think about trying Tai chi or a Pilates class. If you usually workout alone, consider a more social activity such as volleyball or racquetball. Even if the activity turns out not to be your cup of tea, the change and challenge of a new experience will be refreshing.
  5. When finding 20 or 30 minutes to exercise is a problem, exercise for short spurts of time—several times during the day. Yoga is easy to do in ten-minute increments, or you might take two 15 minutes walks instead of having one half hour walk. Resistance or weight training exercises can be accomplished five or ten minutes at a time.
  6. Sometimes the best motivation to get moving is remembering how good it feels to have exercised.

Source: Mayo Clinic
Photo credit: Alan Cleaver / flickr creative commons

 
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