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Not so Happy Holidays



s we roll back into the last few months of the year, our clients and class participants will bear the brunt of less sunlight, less physi- cal activity, exposure to cold and flu viruses, and a multitude of calorie-laden snacks and celebratory meals, all of which wreak havoc with their hormones and overall health.

In addition to all the diseases of inactivity they are already at risk for,

these factors contribute to a condition called S.A.D., or seasonal affective disorder. S.A.D. has recently been reclassified as linked to Major Depres- sion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) produced by the American Psychiatric Association. S.A.D. affects upwards of 15% of Canadians according to the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments, which is more than twice the incidence of diabetes. The good news is that you can make a difference. As a fitness profes- sional, you can be an advocate for countering this condition, which will benefit your clients and class participants. Here are six non-medical approaches that will act to balance the affects of S.A.D. Encourage your clients and participants to visit their doctor as well, to make sure all bases are covered if they need the extra support.

1. Talk. Discussing how you are feeling and what you can do about it has been shown to be effective.

2. Get out. Spending time outside, in particular in the morning, can be helpful to boost your positive feelings.

3. Exercise. This is a no-brainer; encourage your clients and participants to be more regular in their routines, especially around the holidays. Twenty minutes is better than nothing, so emphasize being active rather than perfect.

4. Light. Because sunlight is reduced, the next best thing to being outside is getting the right artificial light. Specific lamps to assist with darker days are now widely available and can be used for 15- 60 minutes a day for benefits.

5. Healthy carbs. Emphasize whole vegetables as often as possible, in particular, cruciferous vegetables. The phytonutrients in these foods assist regulation of mood and detoxification of the body.

6. Omega 3. EPA has been shown to support mood similar to pharmaceutical drugs without the side-effects.

Simply by talking about S.A.D. with your clients and class participants

you will be helping them and possibly the other people in their lives. En- courage them to enjoy the holidays, set realistic goals and be proactive towards managing their mood and health. Continue to be the source of support and strength you already are and you will serve your clients to the highest level possible.

6 canfitpro NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013

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