Each fall the daylight hours shorten many people become afflicted with what has become known as seasonal affect disorder (or, aptly named, SAD). Most people are affected to one degree or another by SAD or SAD-like symptoms. It is a perfectly normal change in the brain that occurs each year as it gets darker earlier and is thought to be the result of altered brain chemistry caused by fewer hours of exposure to sunshine.
The condition can become so significant that some people may require professional intervention. Normally, the brain creates a chemical called serotonin in response to exposure to sunshine. This chemical is largely responsible for producing a happy, healthy mood in a person. Because days are shorter in the fall and winter our brains make less of this chemical and this can lead to SAD. Having bright lights on in the fall and winter afternoon is one way to keep your serotonin levels up, but another healthier way is through exercise.
Now, most Americans don’t exercise enough, especially in the winter. There is a very good reason for this. For the most part, exercise is boring! Especially most indoor exercises! Here’s a reality of life when it comes to exercise; “If it’s boring, you won’t do it. Period!” As a result, most people know they should exercise more, but most people simply don’t. This not necessarily because they don’t want to be in better shape and be in a good mood, but because so many popular kinds of exercise and fitness routines are utterly boring! If you’re bored of endlessly walking on treadmills or elliptical trainers at the gym while watching depressing cable news channels or bad infomercials; or if you’ve tried yoga and Pilates but find them painfully slow, then I have a suggestion for you. Try Aikido!
Aikido, pronounced ‘eye’-‘key’-‘doh’, is a unique Japanese exercise that engages your entire body in a fun, entertaining and exhilarating way. Aikido is a martial art, but can be practiced at any level of intensity according to the needs or physical capabilities of the student. In Aikido, there are no punches or kicks, unlike most other martial arts, so injury is extremely rare. A student learns to move their body effectively and efficiently by employing almost dance-like moves that evade and off balance your partner (who is pretending to be an attacker) without injuring him or her.
People of all ages practice Aikido, but it is particularly beneficial for adults. In fact, you’re never too old to start practicing Aikido. Several of our instructors’ teachers in Japan continue to train into their 70s and 80s! Many past martial artists once again take up Aikido as they enter their 40s and 50s because Aikido is much easier on your body than other more well-known martial arts like Karate and Taekwondo. Most of all, Aikido is fun! Every class is different, so you don’t get bored. Every technique requires your complete and undivided attention, so you can’t “zone out.” One of the most common things we hear at Castle Rock AIKIDO is, “Wow! The time just flew by. I can’t believe it is over so quickly!” Also, Aikido is a great workout for the body… but there is a good chance that you won’t even notice that until you are done with class! Instead of feeling exhausted after a class, most people feel exhilarated.
Many people have more energy, not less, after Aikido class. The reason why is because when you practice more boring forms of exercise, that don’t simultaneously engage your brain, time seems to move much… much… slower. However, Aikido requires you to focus constantly on what you are doing so much that time flies by! Aikido is so engaging to your body and to your mind, that there is a synergistic energy created between the two that absolutely reinvigorates you. Simultaneously, you are left in a happy, relaxed, tranquil state when you’re done. “After every class, I leave in a better mood than when I came in,” says Aikido student Cari, a Castle Rock resident.
Classes are held weekday evenings and weekends in Castle Rock to accommodate working adults. Working out in the evening in the fall and winter is a great way of boosting your serotonin levels to keep you mood up. If you don’t live in Castle Rock, hey, no problem! About half of our students come from outside Castle Rock to practice Aikido. Some students drive from as far north as Westminster and as far south as Colorado Springs to come train with us. Our instructors and programs are so good that people are willing to travel significant distances, if necessary, to practice with us.
Come discover how Aikido can serve as a catalyst for helping you keep your mood up during the winter and help avoid the “winter blues.” We invite you to come try a class at our Aikido school in Castle Rock for free.