Exercise & Depression

If you tend to feel a bit blue during the winter months, you are not alone. Rates of depression increase during the winter, including people who suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). In fact, recent findings suggest that the severity of eating disorder symptoms for bulimia peak in the Fall & Winter months.

While clinically significant depressive disorders need to be treated by a competent medical professional, a little exercise can go a long way to boosting mood, reducing anxiety, and improving sleep patterns.  While you may not be as committed as these gentleman are to exercise, I thought you’d appreciate the laugh. 🙂 How’s that for a little mood booster?
Here are a few facts you might not know:
1.) As you exercise your body’s feel good chemicals called endorphins are produced.  This helps to increase your energy levels which over time increases your stamina.  
2.) Exercise is a positive distraction that illicits a relaxation response in your body to help lower feelings of stress and anxiety.
3.) As you exercise, more serotonin is available to your brain.  As a result you feel happier, more relaxed, and more confident in your ability to manage your life’s stressors. This may also help reduce carbohydrate cravings, a symptom of SAD.
It’s tempting to want to hibernate for the winter. But a small does of exercise (30 minutes) is all you need to reap the disease-fighting and mood enhancing benefits.  And you don’t necessarily need a gym either! 
Here is my Top 10 list of simple strategies to moving more.  
1. Keep it simple. The only cost is a good pair of walking shoes. Walking the neighborhood or even walking the mall is something that is affordable and easy.

2. Many schools open their gyms up to the community for walking programs so check a local school.

3. Turn up the music and dance. A friend lost 19# by doing this for 60 minutes a day with her kids.

4. Take family night to another level with a game like Wii Fit.

5. Use a pedometer and make your own records for as many steps in a single day.

6. Get outside in any season: In the summer, go for walks, hike a new trail, go for a bike ride, kayak, canoe, swim. In the fall, do your own color tour – bring your camera and walk through the beautiful colors. In the winter, ski – downhill can be expensive but if you already have the equipment night skiing is cheaper, cross-country skiing is a great work out, go ice skating, slide down a hill in a toboggan – climbing up the hill is great exercise, go snow shoeing, have a snowball fight, build a snowman. In the spring, take a walk to see all the flowers and trees budding and waking up from their winter slumber.

7. Take work breaks: 30 min at lunch, 15 min in the morning and afternoon. Other people get a smoke break, right?

8. Commercial Break Competitions: Do some routines with hand held weights (or improvised wts from filled water bottles). March, climb stairs, do jumping jacks, push ups, etc.

9. Play like your kids and with your kids. Get down on the ground with them, do somersaults, climb, run, skip, jump, play tag, toss and chase a ball. Have Fun!

10. Join a club or team.

Identify your barriers to moving more and create a game plan. Start simple and specific and let me know how it goes. And always check with your Dr. before starting an exercise program.
Your neighborhood nutritionist in Cambridge,


  1. Did you HAVE to show these men in these bikinis???? At least get men in triathlon suits, please….. I remember seeing too many men in europe with these suits, with regard for “gentler, more refined women’s tastes”. Sorry my first comment is negative. Ohterwise, I LOVE your site!!! It’s informative and catching. Are you having success?

  2. Sorry Linda, I couldn’t help myself! I wrote this post on a gloomy date and I thought I and my readers could use a little comedic relief. Glad you are enjoying the site! And yes, I am very fortunate. Business is good and I love what I do!

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