Winter can be a difficult time for many people, physically and emotionally. Bodies may hurt from the cold, or there may be feelings of anxiety and depression. Exercise can help ease all of these feelings, however. In a recent article on the Mayo Clinic website, the Mayo staff details a list of ways this can work. While getting motivated can be difficult, the clinic writes, beginning on a path of regular exercise can only benefit your health in the long run.
Exercise releases brain chemicals that produce positive feelings throughout the body–neurotransmitters, endorphins, and endocannabinoids are some of them. When these chemicals are released, you can feel happier and more confident within yourself. Exercise helps you manage your emotional stress in a positive way. Instead of thinking about what makes you sad, you’re taking steps to change it, which can lead to continued feelings of motivation and confidence. Exercise also fights chemicals in the immune system that can make depression worse, and increases your body temperature, fighting the metaphorical and literal cold.
If taking up an exercise routine is daunting to you, you can start small by incorporating more physical activities into your life. This can be anything that gets you moving: going grocery shopping, doing laundry, cleaning the house, taking a brisk walk, things like that. You can also think about a physical activity or exercise that you enjoy doing, and make that your outlet. This way, it’s not a chore–it’s something you love that’s also really good for you.
As little as 30 minutes of exercise per day for five days can begin to improve symptoms of depression. While the links between exercise, anxiety, and depression aren’t totally clear, exercise has been shown time and again to improve those symptoms.
Learn more about the link between anxiety, depression, and exercise in this article on the Mayo Clinic’s website here. What activities will you be participating in to lift your mood? Tell us in the comments!