Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Battling the Winter Blues Through Fitness

by Tim Hyland

(The following is an excerpt from an article appearing in the 2010 Md.MD for Life, available now.)

Matt Carlen knows a thing or two about the winter blues.

Growing up in not-so-sunny Sweden, Carlen became all-too-well acquainted with that Nordic nation's long, gloomy, dark winters. Cold, too. Put it this way: By comparison, Maryland winters (even this one) are paradise.

And while Carlen isn't a doctor, he says he's picked up tidbits over the years, both in Sweden and here in the United States, about how long stretches of dark weather can lead directly to dark moods - a condition that doctors now call seasonal affective disorder (SAD). He's also learned how to fight off those winter blues.

"I'm not a scientist," says Carlen. "I can't tell you if the link between exercise and reduced seasonal affective disorder has been proven or not. But I know that I grew up in Sweden, and it's dark for four months a year there. But by being active, by exercising, that definitely helps."

There is an increasing body of evidence indicating that exercise may be among the most effective means of staving off SAD. Simply put, says Carlen, exercise does more than keep your body well. It also keeps your mind well.

That's one of the main messages Carlen delivers as executive director of LifeBridge Health & Fitness, one of the Baltimore area's finest health and fitness centers. Carlen truly believes that regular exercise can make for a better life, and he says he sees more poof of that every day at his club. There, on the rows of treadmills and stationary bikes and elliptical machines, people of all ages and all abilities find fitness, relaxation and happiness in their daily workout - even during the darkest days of winter.

To read more, click here. To learn more about LifeBridge Health & Fitness, call 410-484-6800.

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