From Jazzercise, Inc.
(CARLSBAD, CA) Shorter days, gray skies, cold temperatures that limit your time outdoors -- each of these elements contributes to a type of depression commonly experienced during the winter months by individuals living in northern climates. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is getting considerable media attention. Recently acknowledged as a genuine medical condition, its official recognition has brought new hope and treatment options to millions of Americans who are afflicted. SAD symptoms include:
Treatment usually centers around light therapy -- either through increased exposure to outdoor light or use of specially-designed indoor lights. But exercise is often prescribed as well, because it combats many of the symptoms listed above. Regular physical activity boosts energy, improves sleep quality and helps control weight.
"The best option is to exercise outdoors during daylight hours," says Judi Sheppard Missett, founder and CEO of Jazzercise. "Go for a brisk walk, take your children sledding, or lace up your skates for a few turns around the ice rink. Or if the weather just won't cooperate, it's always uplifting to join others for an indoor workout."
Be sure to warm up before and cool down after any workout. Do the following
stretch as part of your cool down, when warm muscles are most receptive
to flexibility exercises.
Stand behind a sturdy chair with a fairly high back. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, toes pointing straight ahead, and your hands on the back of the chair. Pull your abdominal muscles in, relax your shoulders, and stand tall. Reach one arm up over head, lifting your ribs away from your hips as you feel a stretch along the side of your body. Be sure to keep your shoulders pressed down, and breathe naturally as you hold the stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. Next, turn your legs out from the hip so your knees and toes are facing the diagonal. Lunge to one side as you extend your reach over your body, increasing the stretch. Continue breathing as you hold this stretch 10 to 30 seconds. Return to the beginning position and reverse the stretches for the opposite side. Repeat the stretches two to three more times on each side.
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