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3 things for better health

Need to be motivated to start the week off on a healthy note? Just try one or more of three things to start the week off on the right path.

1. Feeling the loss of sunlight? Seasonal depression, "winter blues," Seasonal affective disorder known as SAD, are all real things. The Washington Post noted for those missing the sun on these short late fall and early winter days, consider Barrow, Alaska, the nation's northernmost city where the darkness lasts for nine weeks until the sun rises again Jan. 23.

"Many find that the season's shorter days and longer nights affect their health. About 5 percent of the population develops seasonal depression, according to Mental Health America. Reduced amounts of daylight trigger the somewhat milder "winter blues" in another 10 to 20 percent, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians," The Washington Post reported.

"Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, affects women far more often than men; 4 out of 5 people with SAD are women. It also affects people under 30 more often than older people. Symptoms include typical signs of depression—such as low energy, sleep problems, changes in appetite and weight, and loss of interest in favorite activities. But with SAD, symptoms come and go with the season. No one knows what causes SAD, but most experts link its development to less exposure to the sun's rays, brought about by shorter days in the fall and winter. This may disrupt your body's internal clock, sparking depression, and reduce your body's serotonin levels, increase melatonin levels and decrease vitamin D levels, affecting your mood. Treatment options include light therapy—sitting in front of a special light box for 20 to 60 minutes a day—as well as behavioral therapy and possibly antidepressants."

2. This week, vow to stretch each day, do 20 squats, 20 lunges, 30 forward and reverse arm circles, and 20 side leg lifts. It's a start. And don't forget to walk. Try going faster and then slower to add some intervals to the pace.

3. Join a Thanksgiving tradition with the ninth annual Brainerd Turkey Trot, Thursday, Nov. 22. The 5k run and 1 mile walk—to prepare you for the big feast—benefits Shriners Hospital for Children. So participants can feel good about helping others and about the dressing, mashed potatoes and pies they are about to consume. The event starts and ends at the Brainerd Armory and travels on streets in the industrial park and the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds. Organizers note this is a great course for beginners and a fast course for seasoned runners. People can pick up packets from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday and on race morning from 7:30-8:45 a.m at the Armory. On Thanksgiving, the race starts at 9 a.m. For more info, go to Brainerdturkeyrun.com.

For more tips from the weekly Three Things list, check out the Monday Motivator page each week in the Dispatch or e-edition, or go to www.brainerddispatch.com and go to lifestyle to reach the drop-down menu for health or search using the keywords "Monday Motivator."

Questions or tips to share, contact Renee Richardson, managing editor, at renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5852.

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