With the longer, sunny days of vacay season behind us, it can be seriously challenging to stay fit and upbeat. Whether you're seeing your kids through the beginning of a new school year and/or spending more time cooped up in the office, you probably have less time to devote to personal fitness.
Making matters worse, fall's rain, gloom, and chilly air can instantly zap the brightest mood. Thankfully, the key to staying fit and curing a case of the fall blues could be as easy as striking a few Downward-Facing Dogs. A new medical study from Boston University School of Medicine found that compared to leisurely walking, yoga is more effective at boosting mood and decreasing anxiety.
One group of participants practiced Iyengar yoga (a type of yoga that focuses on body alignment using props like belts and blocks) for one hour three times a week, while another group walked for the same amount of time. At four-week intervals, the researchers tested the subjects' levels of a neurotransmitter called gamma-amino butyric acid, or GABA. Elevated levels of the chemical are associated with increased mood and decreased anxiety. And wouldn't you know it ... The yoga group reported feeling cheerier than the walking group -- and their GABA levels were up, to boot!
Personally, this time of year really puts me off a committed workout schedule. After a sometimes hour-long commute in bad weather and bumper-to-bumper traffic, I'll gladly choose the couch over cardio. But I know that with my laundry list of to-dos, I could easily fall victim to health-sapping anxiety and stress. It seems like yoga could be the ultimate solution by bolstering my fitness and emotional health. Not to mention that even 25 minutes of mat time can be a calming antidote to rush hour road rage! (My favorite yoga workout right now is The Biggest Loser: The Workout -- Weight Loss Yoga. Mostly because I just love Bob Harper!)
Do you do yoga? Does it serve as your happy pill?
Image via lulumonathletica/Flickr