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Mental health

Winter blues? Time to get active!

Do winter’s colder, darker and shorter days put a damper on your mood, sapping your energy and leaving you feeling down? You’re not alone: around 60% of people living in Canada report feeling “the winter blues” – defined by the Canadian Mental Health Association as a wave of low emotions that come with cold, dark days.

How physical activity can benefit your mental health

Luckily there’s a great way to start feeling better: get moving! When you move, your body releases endorphins, dopamine and serotonin (feel-good chemicals) that reduce feelings of pain and increase feelings of pleasure, literally boosting your mood. Getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week also reduces levels of stress hormones – cortisol and adrenaline.

On top of all that, physical activity can help you cope with stressful situations, reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and even increase self-esteem and feelings of self-worth, which makes getting active an essential part of our mental health tool kits!

A smiling man pushing a smiling woman in a wheelchair at a park during winter.

Research shows that physically active people are more satisfied with their lives and that exercise itself is strongly linked with happiness. In fact, within just five minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, you’re likely to experience a mood-enhancing effect.

Simple ways to move for your mood

We know that going outside for a walk or wheel in the middle of winter might not be the most appealing option in the world. But you don’t need to jog or hike in freezing weather to get all the great benefits of being active! Dancing, yoga, household chores or doing some jumping jacks or pushups can quickly boost your mood. But if you can, try to bundle up and get active outdoors. Recent studies show that exposure to nature, including walking outdoors, has been linked to many benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood and even upticks in empathy and cooperation.

A man, woman and child running on a snow-covered nature trail surrounded by trees.

Move for your mood today!

Looking for a way to get active and feel better this winter? Download or open the free ParticipACTION app and join the Move for your Mood challenge, taking place January 16-31, when getting active not only makes you feel better, but it might just win you some great prizes, too! The more you move, the more chances to win!

*While physical activity can be an essential tool to help boost your mood, you should always reach out for additional supports and services if needed:

Crisis Services Canada (24/7)
Call 1-833-456-4566 (QC: 1-866-277-3553)

Find your CMHA

Call 1-855-873-0013

Wellness Together Canada

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