by Dan Ritchie

Let’s face it, some of us are experiencing long, gloomy days this season, and sometimes they can bring on sadness, fatigue, and even seasonal depression. We know that eating smart, helping others, exercising, and getting outside are a few things that can help. A Harvard study in 2005 showed that getting outside for a brisk walk can help improve symptoms. But what if it’s not easy to exercise outdoors? What can we do in our facilities to boost mood and change things up until spring? Here are 6 ideas to try:

Set New Goals Yes, it’s time for New Year’s resolutions, but help your clients make new, achievable goals.Chunk them into mini milestones so that clients can see progress and feel encouraged. By the time spring is here, they will feel stronger and more confident, and remember, your support is vital.

Get Together Many times we find ourselves isolated when it’s cold or snowy outside, so encourage your clients to try group training. The camaraderie and socialization aspect of exercise is valuable.

Try Something New Introduce a cognitive fitness game, a new balance circuit, set up an obstacle course, create an indoor hiking challenge – the possibilities are endless!

Mix Charity with Movement Have a fundraiser for a local charity and incorporate an exercise challenge. For example, at my studio Miracles Fitness in West Lafayette, Indiana, we’ve done a Fitness for Food Finders challenge, which raised $2000 and equaled 6000 meals for our community.

Turn it Up! Music can boost mood, so switch up the tunes you play in the gym and put on some summer songs. Try some Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffet, The Go Go’s, or DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince – nothing speaks summer like some of their songs! For ideas, search for the top 50 best summer songs.

Most Importantly, Check In!Take a moment to look your clients in the eye and see how they are doing. Kindness goes a long way, especially for some of our mature clients who may be more socially isolated.