Get Moving This Winter
Written by Erica Hornthal, CEO of Chicago Dance Therapy
As the winter weather makes its way to Chicago, it may seem appealing to brace for the frigid cold and snow by hibernating. A word of caution: as inviting as that may sound, it is imperative that we keep moving. Not just exercise, but moving our bodies has tremendous benefits and can actually make it easier to get through those cold winter months.
The Winter Blues
Movement wards off the winter blues and Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD). SAD affects approximately 3 million people in the United States alone. Changes in the weather and the amount of light we are exposed to affect our ability to concentrate, focus, and retain information. By engaging in movements, like walking, deep breathing, and stretching, we can activate our brains and actually combat those SAD symptoms.
Moving around produces body heat. The more active you are, the better your blood circulation will be. This means that warm blood gets to your fingers and toes, keeping them warm. Applying light pressure to our bodies, engaging in self-massage, and rubbing our extremities generates heat and is also an easy way to stay warm.
Movement keeps us connected when we are susceptible to “hibernating”. Moving throughout the day, whether it’s walking to the water cooler at work, grabbing coffee in the morning, meeting a friend at the gym or having dinner with family, is a way in which we remain connected to the world around us. Remember that moving has a social component and that the best way to get through the winter is to engage with the people around you. After all, time flies when we are having fun! Go out with your friends and the winter will be over before you know it.
Movement and exercise can encourage a healthy weight. We are susceptible to weight gain during the holidays and winter months. Our bodies need more fat to stay warm, but we can use exercise to maintain a healthy weight and to shed pounds safely and effectively. Remember to consult your physician before starting an exercise regimen.
Beach Body Ready
It’s hard to think about summer when winter has just arrived. However, it is beneficial to your physical and emotional health to proactively get in or stay in shape throughout the winter so as not to add stress in the spring when you want to be on the beach in a bathing suit. The winter is not the time to “let yourself go”. We should all embrace our bodies, no matter the shape, throughout the entire year. It will have a greater impact on your self-esteem and emotional health in the long run.
Erica Hornthal, MA, LCPC, BC-DMT is a licensed professional clinical counselor and board certified dance/movement therapist. She received her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago and her BS in psychology from University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Erica is the CEO of Chicago Dance Therapy. As a psychotherapist in private practice, Erica specializes in working with older adults, families, and caregivers who are touched by dementia, movement, and cognitive disorders. She utilizes a somatic approach to engage her clients regardless of cognitive and physical ability. Her work has been highlighted in the Chicago Tribune, Social Work Magazine, WBBM News Radio, as well as on Fox, WCIU, and WGN.