Combat Seasonal Depression Through Exercise this Winter

December 04, 2023

If you struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder, running may be a saving grace for you this December.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), commonly referred to as seasonal depression, is a type of depression which is triggered around this time of year. The autumn and winter months, as the days get shorter and nights get longer, people who suffer from SAD often spiral and symptoms like anxiety may get worse and energy levels may drop. When the spring begins and the days get longer once again, the depression eases.

Due to the drop in mood during these months, people can ease off their training or lose all motivation to train completely. Running has been shown to help ease some of the symptoms of SAD. Though it may not feel possible at the time in your own head, that ‘runner’s high’ is still achievable. Get your runners on, wrap up warm, and get out there in the fresh air and let the road guide you for however long you wish, giving your mind a break from the troubles SAD is causing.

Running can be a great way to combat SAD from taking over your life during the winter months. There are less hours of daylight, so if you are more comfortable running while it’s bright outside you may have to start your day with a morning run before work, college, or school. The Vitamin D you’re receiving from the sunlight can work wonders on your mood.

If that is not possible for you, you can still run in the hours after the sun has set, just make sure you are visible and take precaution when doing so. You can read our guide to winter running here: https://runrepublic.com/news/a-guide-to-safer-running-this-winter

According to the Mayo Clinic, ‘working out and other forms of physical activity can definitely ease symptoms of depression or anxiety and make you feel better. Exercise may also help keep depression and anxiety from coming back once you're feeling better’. Thirty minutes of exercise a few times per week may be enough to ease those winter blues.

If you are a member of an Athletics Club, reach out to a buddy and go for a run with them. Social interaction can absolutely help, and you never know who you might be helping yourself by reaching out!

Running may be an individual activity, but it is a community. There is such an amazing network of people in the running space and as a result, you are never alone and always have somebody to talk to. Run Republic hopes to bring runners together and to be a light for people who may be struggling with SAD, and we urge you to get that exercise whenever you can and to reach out to people if you are experiencing SAD symptoms.