Walking Club Check-In: Why It's Important to Walk in October!

Last Reviewed 04/16/2014

As the days get shorter, it's even more important to keep on walking.Welcome, or welcome back, to the Dr. Sinatra Walking Club. If you missed the "official introduction," you can see it here. Each Saturday, I post a new Walking Club Check-in, where you can post your minutes walked, the number of times you walked, or miles by leaving a comment.

I don't know about you, but at this time of the year as the days get shorter, I start to feel the lack of sunshine. I know I’m not alone. October is when seasonal affective disorder (SAD)—a type of depression tied to lower levels of sunlight during the winter months—sets in for millions of people in the United States.

Dr. Sinatra says he worries about these people because a case of the blues can lead to a full-blown depressive episode—and that can put them at higher risk for stroke or heart attack. His first piece of advice to them is straight and simple: Get moving! Research shows that physical activity can be as effective as medication in alleviating the symptoms of depression, but without any side effects—only benefits.

So, if you’re thinking about taking a break from exercise as the days get cooler and shorter—which I know can be tempting—we want to remind ourselves how important it can be for our state of mind.

Exercise has a positive effect on certain mood-enhancing neurotransmitters in the brain, and it can boost the level of endorphins—the feel-good chemicals responsible for the “runners high.” Exercise also eases tension in muscles, improves sleep, and reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol. These changes can take a bite out of symptoms such as sadness, anxiety, irritability, stress, fatigue, anger, self-doubt, and hopelessness.

So, if you’re feeling low, get out your walking shoes and let physical activity raise your spirits!

Now it's your turn:
Do you feel SAD during the winter months, and does walking help?
Plus, if you walked this week, please record your days, minutes, or miles walked.

Have a great Saturday--and keep on walking!


Remember to consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.


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