I love a lazy day. I’m all for having a lie in, the lounge wear, the snacks you buy the day before for the sole purpose of sitting with your feet up while watching TV. A bit of Netflix, maybe a cheeky takeaway, and some rain outside to validate my not leaving the house all day. It’s a vibe; I can’t lie.
I’ve noticed though, that the less I move, the more tired I feel, and after a chill day of snacks, books and naps, I can sometimes feel more lethargic at the end of the day than I would otherwise. After more than 3 (ish) days of ‘just chilling’ my mood also plummets. It’s like resting starts to have the opposite effect.
With the temperature plummeting and the days getting shorter, the temptation to curl up in a ball and consume ample amounts of carbs is ever increasing. So too is the likelihood of experiencing a bit of ‘the winter blues’ – or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is a form of depression which occurs at the same time annually (typically in the winter).
Fatigue, low mood, and increased anxiety are well-researched effects of extended sedentary time. Coupled with the very common experience of SAD, the winter ahead may look very long and extremely bleak.
Many studies conclude that exercising daily is important for mood, mental health and perceived energy levels. For me, the idea of ‘exercising more often’ usually brings to mind images of intense HIIT training classes with sweat dripping from every pore. While the occasional intense class may be enjoyable, the idea of doing this everyday, or even a couple of times a week is less than appealing.
However, movement, even when it’s low impact and split into short bursts (such as three 10 minute walks) throughout the day can have a significant impact on overall well-being. The proposed mechanism behind the observed effects appear to be multi-faceted. We all know that our bodies release endorphins when we exercise, but we may also benefit from improved sleep, enhanced self esteem, more social interaction (if you bring a friend on your walkies) and some exposure to sunlight.
The pandemic has taught us that there are numerous ways to stay active without straying far from home. Try out activities such as gardening, walking, yoga and casual cycling which won’t leave you dripping with sweat and gasping for air, and may easily be incorporated into an otherwise sedentary day.