Exercise helps people beat the winter blues and stay healthy

Daily exercise is proven to improve one’s mental and physical health


SHS Students workout at Fitness Club and use the Incline and Decline chest machines for a good workout. (Photo taken by Sydney Curry)

Sydney Curry, Staff Writer

Between 4 and 6 million people suffer from winter depression. Another 10 to 20 million could have mild Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Every year, millions of people are struck with winter depression, making them unmotivated and more likely to stay inside all the time.

There is research that shows that the darker mornings and evenings have an effect on people mentally. They become more tired, which results in less activity.

For many people, the cold weather is a huge deterrent to wanting to exercise.  People are conditioned to think that they can only be active during warm weather.

In colder weather, not only do people exercise less often but they also get exposed to less sunlight.  This lack of sunlight causes one’s body to produce more melatonin, which is a sleep-inducing hormone.  This helps explain why so many people feel sleepy more often during the winter months.

“It’s definitely harder to be disciplined and exercise in the winter time, but it’s something you just have to snap out of and say to yourself: ‘I’m gonna do this.’” said Brian Williams, a member at the Mo´R Tennis, Fitness, and Sports center, which is located in East Stroudsburg.

Every winter, people face the challenge of staying active.  While getting outside, at first, may seem difficult, there are benefits that make the effort worthwhile.  Cold weather forces one’s body to work harder to pump blood.  One’s blood vessels actually narrow and the heart and lungs are forced to work harder, as well.  The result strengthens one’s muscle aerobic function.  This simply means that a person receives more oxygen during exercise.

Something as simple as going outside and running a mile every day regulates one’s intake of fresh air and keeps food cravings at bay.

Mia Macaluso, a wrestler for East Stroudsburg University, shared her thoughts on the importance of exercise.

“It helps with depression, self-love, and staying healthy,” said Macaluso. “I keep myself motivated by having friends to work out with, and knowing I’ll be healthy by training and working hard.”

While exercising outdoors produces positive results, one can still exercise indoors, if necessary.  It just might take a bit more creativity. Many people believe they need equipment in order to get a good workout. Not true.  There are millions of YouTube videos and websites that guide people through indoor exercises at home.

Many of these workouts can even be performed in a small space.  One exercise can be as simple as tucking one’s feet under your couch and doing sit-ups.

“I try to stay motivated year round because I enjoy both indoor and outdoor activities no matter what season it is,” said special education teacher Mr. Mike Kane. Kane is also a fitness trainer at Train On Main, which is located on Main Street in Stroudsburg.

“Prepping and keeping your body healthy all year round is a lifestyle that needs you to stay engaged both mentally and physically in order to do these activities without your body getting too tired and feeling less fatigued,” said Kane.

There are many physical and mental benefits to working out. Exercise releases “feel-good” chemicals and is good for stressing and calming down after a long day’s work.  It helps reduce anxiety and depression levels.  The end result is better health overall.

¨I like working out because I have a lot of energy and working out helps me use it up,” said junior Gaby Bryant. “I enjoy how I feel after a good workout. It helps me clear my mind after a hard day.¨

Generally, people are less motivated during the winter. One way to counter the blues is to take that first step: create a daily exercise schedule and try to stick with it — all year round.

Check out these helpful links to better fitness year-round: