The Link Between Exercise and Mood

Safeguard Your Mental Health for Winter 2020

Shorter days, cloudy skies, and crisp wind often team up around this time of year to weigh us down physically and mentally. 

With Winter knocking on our doors and mental health at a low point, this approaching season promises to be a challenging one for many people. 

How can you prepare to give your mind the additional support it needs this Winter? Our answer: add a little extra exercise to your every day.

Photo by Tim Bish on Unsplash

Here’s the deal:

While exercise might be the last thing you have in mind when you’re feeling low and cold, research that links regular exercise and improved mood continues to pile up.

For decades, the evidence surrounding this link presented a chicken-and-egg scenario: does regular activity manage mood, or does your mental state determine your movement routine?

Thanks to new advancements in biochemistry and activity tracking,  we have a better understanding of this positive link. While there is a massive amount of research still needed to explain why exercise is so good for your mood, we do know that it absolutely is beneficial.

Neurochemical benefits of exercise

Endorphins are potent neuro-transmitting chemicals released in the brain during physical exertion that reduce stress and relieve pain symptoms. Increased activity leads to increased endorphin production, which has temporary benefits, but it also promotes the production of other neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. All of these chemicals play an important role in mood regulation. Additionally, exercise promotes neuroplasticity, or your brain’s ability to repair itself and change with the passage of time.

Psychological benefits of exercise

Over time, regular exercise can lead to better sleep, bolstered confidence, a sense of control, and reduced feelings of isolation. When properly utilized, exercise is an excellent mindfulness technique that can break negative thought patterns.

Exercise to combat anxiety and depression

Remember, regular exercise is both prescriptive and preventative. Studies have shown that exercise can be as effective as anti-depressants in some patients, and can be combined with medication or therapy for additional benefits. Just fifteen minutes of moderate to intense exercise a day reduces your risk of developing major depression by 26%.

By utilizing mindfulness techniques with exercise as an intentional distraction, you can break through both anxious and depressive thought patterns and give your brain a break.

Tips for exercising this Winter

  • Opt for outdoor exercise as much as possible. 
  • Wear layered clothes that promote moisture wicking while providing varying levels of warmth.
  • Consider mid-day exercise options to get all the daylight available.
  • Make sure to abide by social distancing measures at all times when exercising in public.
  • Start a home-based bodyweight exercise routine.
  •  If you live close enough, walk or bike to work.
  • Try something new to mix it up. Winter is the best time to get into cross-country skiing, downhill sports, or skating!

Take Control

Managing your mood and response to external stressors needs to be a priority for everyone this Winter. Now more than ever, it’s a season full of complicated, heightened emotions on top of already bleak weather.

Increasing your daily exercise by even fifteen minutes can help keep you resilient, even-tempered, and primed to come out the other side ready for spring.

Upcoming Colorful

Farm to Fit Meals 

Grainless “Granola”

Our signature mix of savory roasted nuts  and flakes topped with seasonal fruit and creamy, natural Greek yogurt. Good morning! (Emphasis on Good.)

Pomegranate Chicken

Tangy, tender marinated chicken served on mashed parsnips, bacon-seared chef’s vegetable and topped with spicy-sweet Asian pear salsa. That’s a lot of flavor fit on to one plate.

Prime Rib & Sweet Potato Hash

Who could have trouble getting out of bed when they know you have a hearty hash like this waiting? Topped with a folded egg and house-made hot sauce.

Saurbraten

Meticulously marinated beef, rich red wine cabbage, and roasted parsnip-apple mash.  Prost!

Farm to Fit Kitchen Salad

Color us impressed! Roasted chickpeas, edamame, cucumber, red bell pepper, rainbow carrots, grilled chicken, blue cheese, and baby spinach — all tossed with roast Walla Walla onion dressing.

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The meals are fantastic, and the customer service has always been outstanding… It’s like the best aspects of cooking at home and eating out combined.” – J.L.

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