Seasonal Affective Disorder and exercise

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 30, 2007 5:08 PM GMT
    This year, for the first time in my life, I am really getting hit hard by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and my suspicion is that my exercise routine may have something to do with it. Here is my theory: 2006 I really got in better shape than I have ever been before in my life. When the cold weather hit, and the overcast days seem to come one after the other, my exercise routine was really thrown off, particularly my outside cardio stuff. So for the last month or so I have not been able to follow my routine like clockwork due to the lousy weather. I think this has caused some depression along the lines of SAD, and it is a real challenge trying to snap out of it. I know that as soon as the weather improves, I will get back into my routine and start building myself up again, but this waiting is killing me. Does anyone else have this seasonal issue, and what kinds of exercises or activities do you set up specifically for the winter months to combat it?
  • luvs2travel

    Posts: 94

    Jan 30, 2007 7:59 PM GMT
    I am hit by SAD every year. I find that the best way to make sure that I exercise regularly is to make an actual appointment with a trainer or a buddy - that way someone is expecting me. Also, change up your routine - take some yoga (or pilates) classes - it's great for strength and flexibility and really energizes every part of your body.
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    Jan 31, 2007 10:19 AM GMT
    Tanning beds....seriously

    From what i understand SAD is caused by the lack of natural vitamin D produced in the body from direct sunlight. The use of taning beds or Sun Boxes,(boxes than stimulate the natural sunlight) are used to help the condition.

    I was training lots over the winter, but i too felt a bit down from the lack of daylight hours, this may have been due to spending 0ct05-april06 in the southern hemisphere and hence having 3 summers in a row.
  • luvs2travel

    Posts: 94

    Jan 31, 2007 3:32 PM GMT
    I'm glad you mentioned light therapy. However, tanning beds are not the same. Tanning beds do not supply the same kind of light that a full spectrum bulb does. Tanning beds are great for some things (including premature aging and cancer formation), but should not be used as a substitute for full spectrum light therapy. I actually used to work in the tanning industry and have read the research (really boring stuff). If you want a good resource for light therapy products, go to www.gaiam.com
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    Jan 31, 2007 7:43 PM GMT
    Thank you, Surfwarrior. I totally agree with you.

    Not every inconvenient mood or tendency is a disorder, a "chemical imbalance" or some other pathological condition.

    Whether we admit it or not, we're not evolved to live indoors without exposure to the sun and fresh air. And you don't have a disorder just because you get depressed or moody during the shorter days in the winter. There are too many therapists and drug companies trying to make money at the expense of others, and it never ceases to amaze me how many people lack the self confidence to look themselves in the mirror and say "there's nothing wrong with me."

    Going tanning once a week really can help. Even a lunchtime walk to get out of the office/house and get some fresh air has some beneficial effects.
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    Jan 31, 2007 8:27 PM GMT
    I want to take a minute to respond to the last entry. Although I was not referring to actually being diagnosed with SAD or claiming that I had SAD, I do believe that the disorder does exist. My first boyfriend was seriously afflicted with the condition, and I doubt reciting a mantra in front of a mirror would have helped matters much. My original point was that my increased activity last year has exacerbated my frustrations with cold weather this winter - it was simply an observation. My improved fitness has increased my yearning for good weather. Although I basically agree that drug companies have taken advantage of a lot of people, I think mental illnesses, whatever they may be, need to be handled with thoughtful sympathy and not dismissed out of hand.
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    Jan 31, 2007 9:48 PM GMT
    OK hold on

    i didn't say or develop-

    "Not every inconvenient mood or tendency is a disorder, a "chemical imbalance" or some other pathological condition. "

    so don't go agreeing with me on something i didn't say.

    I stated that my knowledge of the SAD condition was that is was partially caused by the lack of exposure to natural sunlight that stimulates natural vitamin D production in the body. What that vitamin D does when produced in the body is not something i understand yet.

    The same way that a lack of vitamin D can lead to the cause of rickets.

    I'm am NOT a doctor of medicine or the mind.

    As for the tanning bed solution, again not 100% sure on the over exposure and use of these beds. I have never used one, however i do know that they use UV light. UV light being the one of the light sources that we use sunscreen to protect our skin from.

    I retract my statement 'Tanning beds seriously'. i do not want to encourage anyone going and using tanning beds constantly everyday to try to and curtail the effects of SAD systems. Do the research.
  • luvs2travel

    Posts: 94

    Feb 01, 2007 12:43 AM GMT
    I wasn't trying to dog what you said, surfwarrior. I also hit the bed now and then just for bright light and the heat. That intense heat mentally transports me to a beach, even if it's just for a few minutes.

    SAD, as surfwarrior mentioned, is thought to be caused by a lack of vitamin D, which is produced when the body is exposed to sunlight. It is an actual medical condition that can range from feeling kinda funky to seriously distressed to suicidal.

    For persons who do not have first-hand experience with something like SAD, it's best to keep an open mind and not form opinions without first understanding it.

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    Feb 01, 2007 2:21 AM GMT
    I appologize for seemingly starting a battle. It wasn't my intention to project previous posters' comments or subject anyone to a personal attack.

    That said, if a person was initiating a business venture, and had serious doubts on whether it would be successful, that self-doubt would very likely contribue to the business failing. It could be argued that the same phenomenon could be responsible for an exercise regimen, seasonal depression, etc. A person who doubts they can successfully cope with a challenge is certainly compounding their issues, if not directly contributing to problem in the first place.

    My main point, which admittedly got obscured by my personal views on discussing mental health in public forums, is that there are ways of dealing with this issue. Moderate (of course, not extreme) tanning may be one of those methods. Increased cardio may be another (try taking two or three spin classes a week, and stay with it for at least a few weeks). Of course, neither of these is a quick fix or panacea, as with most things in life. And doubting that they might help is the first step in guaranteeing that they won't.
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    Feb 01, 2007 3:25 AM GMT
    Wow, this did get serious quick, didn't it? I think everyone here has a valid point, and I really appreciate the response. I think bottom line - we all are ready for some decent weather.
  • art_smass

    Posts: 960

    Feb 01, 2007 9:50 PM GMT
    I try make my living in the winter as a writer, and I live VERY far north of most of you guys. Last year I moved my computer in front of a window where I'm forced to sit in the glare of the sun off of the snow pack (in what little sun I get this time of year). I swear that it has made all the difference in the world. I got the idea after seeing a news story on TV about those 'light boxes' for people with SAD. I'm not sure that I had SAD, but I sure would get grouchy as the winter dragged on. I think I've been a little happier since I've relocated my work station.