Daylight savings in Australia ended on Sunday, April 2. Most of us love the idea of turning the clocks back an hour, as it feels like we’ve been gifted extra time (despite the fact we always lose that hour during the latter part of the year). However, gaining this additional hour has one significant drawback.
Instead of seeing the sun set while out on an evening run or walk, I have to watch the light disappear during the hour-long commute home from work. That, quite frankly, is more than a little depressing.
And that’s not an overstatement.
A study released in November last year showed an 8 per cent increase in people in Denmark being diagnosed with depression in the month following the end of daylight savings.1 The author of the study, Soren Ostergaard from Aahus University, said “the transition to standard time is likely to be associated with a negative psychological effect as it very clearly marks the coming of a period of long, dark and cold days”.
Temperatures in Australia may never reach the bitter extremes of Denmark’s winters, yet the effect of the time change remains.
“Because it gets dark sooner in the evening, some people may experience more fatigue on their commute home,” said Dr Raghu Upender, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville (US).2
This fatigue has a negative effect on our exercise habits, as people often feel too tired during dark, cold evenings to get out and get moving. Yet, the recommendation of at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day3 never changes. This means in order for us to stay healthy, we need to work out how to workout at home.
Here are some indoor exercise ideas that will keep you fighting fit during the cold, dark winter months.
It may not make you sweat, but stretching in itself is a very useful exercise. A combination of stretches not only works out your entire body, but also increases your overall mobility and flexibility.4 Aim to stretch twice a day at least three times a week.
As we’ve previously discussed on The Table, skipping is a fast, fat-burning, full-body workout that you can do within the comfort of your own home. All you need is a few bucks (you can get a decent skipping rope for $10) and a little bit of bounce in your legs.
The planking craze is far from crazy. This activity helps improve core, back and neck strength, while also engaging other whole muscle groups (arms, legs). But a word of warning: planking is not the magic bullet solution that some people have come to believe. Learn how to plank correctly, and how you can add variety to the exercise, by clicking HERE.
The thought of watching videos on your computer or iPad may seem counterproductive to your mission to stay active. However, while YouTube may have an overabundance of cat videos and “fail” compilations, it also has a plethora of instructional videos for any exercise under the sun. Try looking up a home-friendly activity like yoga or Pilates, and turn your living room into your own personal gym.
We’re in the midst of autumn here in Australia, and the days are only going to get colder and shorter. To fight off the winter blues, stay inside, stay warm . . . and stay active.
If you or somebody you know is struggling with depression, contact Lifeline or Beyond Blue.