Winter in Michigan is upon us. Aerobic exercise continues to be important in the management of pain, fibromyalgia and headaches. Some studies show aerobic exercise may be even more important in the winter than other times of the year.
Aerobic exercise, when performed daily for 35-45 minutes at a target heart rate, causes the body to release therapeutic doses of serotonin and endorphins.
Endorphins and Serotonin
Endorphins help to naturally and powerfully reduce our pain. Serotonin reduces stress and anxiety, and it also directly affects the adrenaline response which can cause an increase in pain when we experience a flare-up. Studies are now also showing that serotonin is important in the wintertime when our days are so short, sun exposure is limited, and we need an extra dose of serotonin to help regulate our sleep cycles and help to improve energy. The most widely recommended method for getting the extra serotonin needed during these months is daily aerobic exercise.
Obviously exercising in the winter can pose several complications. Many may not want to go out in the cold, or risk walking in treacherous conditions. If you feel this way, it is important to have another exercise plan for when the weather prevents you from exercising outside.
- Join a gym. Many do not require a contract, and you can pay month by month. This makes it easy to join for just the winter months.
- Walk at a nearby mall. Most have extended hours to accommodate people who would like to exercise.
- Swim at a local high school. It is often very inexpensive to swim during open swim times, and this can be a great way to keep your routine interesting.
- Use indoor equipment. Some are lucky enough to have either a treadmill or elliptical/cross trainer at their own home, but if not, you may be able to use a friend's or relative's equipment.
- Aquire an aerobic exercise video. They are relatively inexpensie to purchase, borrow from a friend, or rent from the library.
- Of course it is not out of the question to exercise outdoors. There are special shoes and clothing available for walking safely outdoors. There are also other options such as snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
So devise your plan and then implement it. Do not let the weather be your excuse. Keep it interesting, and enjoy your new winter exercise routine!
More than the programs ...
At The Pain Center, all of our doctor's and therapists see patients outside of the programs. If you have a new injury, significant stressor, severe pain flare-up or need to adjust your home exercise program - come back to the team that you trust. We're happy to help.
Have a question about a flare up?
You are still a part of The Pain Center family. If you ever have a question, please give us a call at 616.233.3480 and we'd be happy to answer it.