Sweater weather is upon us and the shorter days may already be taking a toll on your mental and physical health. Reduced daylight can cause a drop in serotonin levels which can lead to feelings of fatigue, depression and in some cases, seasonal depressive disorder (SAD).

Approximately 10 million Americans are impacted by SAD and another 10 to 20 percent experience some mild form of the disorder in the fall and winter months. Symptoms include a change in appetite (usually increased cravings of starchy or sweet foods), weight gain, reduced energy levels, a lack of motivation, fatigue, and a decreased desire for physical activity.

With the season transition comes the need for a transition in our workout routines to combat the winter’s dreary impact. Here are three reasons you should consider incorporating an indoor cycling class into your fitness routine this season.

Low impact, high burn.

On days when hitting the gym feels isolating and unmotivating, spinning offers a totally different vibe in which you can feed off the energy of the group. “[Spin] is the kind of workout that you get out what you put in,” says Michelle August Founder of SpinCo, the largest Canadian spin studio.

One of the best things about spin: you are in control of your workout. If you are feeling sore, overexerted, or are recovering from an injury, simply add less resistance. Spinning places less stress on the joints while building lower body strength, making it the perfect active recovery for those who enjoy higher-impact cardio. A typical spin class is 45-50 minutes and burns up to 600 calories.

Photo courtesy of SPINCO

Disconnect and reconnect.

In a season that can leave many of us feeling stressed, turning off our overactive brains (and ahem, our phones) for an hour can be a complete gamechanger. Many spin studios have dimmed lights (even candles!) and a no-phone policy to ensure everyone is completely present and connecting with their bodies and workouts without distraction.

“It’s a team workout,” says Michelle. “You get motivated by the riders that are in the same room who are determined to push and motivate themselves.” Exercising with others is proven to impact the quality of your workout, according to a study published in the Journal of Social Sciences. Researchers found that exercising with someone more fit than oneself promotes a higher intensity workout.

But perhaps more exciting than the physical benefits is the mental well-being that comes along with group fitness. “The one thing that all humans have in common is that desire for connection,” says Daina Fitzgerald, SpinCo instructor. “Group fitness is more than just about the workout. It’s an opportunity to connect with others, and feed/build off of their energy.”

Working out in a group improves one’s quality of life and reduces stress more than individual workouts, according to a recent study. Sweating in a group setting for 30 minutes a week for 12 weeks decreased stress among individuals by 26.2 percent, while those who worked out alone or with one other person saw no significant improvement (despite sweating it out twice as long!).

Baby, it’s sweaty in here.

Permanently shivering from October to March? Within the first five minutes of pedaling in a spin class you’ll regret wearing anything but your sports bra. When it becomes too cold and dark for outdoor workouts, you can count on the spin studio to be hot and motivating.

“You might as well be at a nightclub, but instead you are doing something good for your body,” says Michelle who considers winter the busiest time of year for spinning.

“For indoor cycling, it’s a lot more about looking in and being focused on the music, the beat, and your own push. We use lights and different types of music to get you into your own zone,” says Michelle. “Whereas with outdoor cycling, it’s more about the whole journey, the distance, and being a lot more aware of your surroundings.”

Between the music, lights, heat, and people, you’ll forget all about how dreary it is beyond the four studio walls and simply focus on working up a good sweat.

For more tips on how you can boost your mood this season, check out Expert Tips For Feeling Happier This Season.

Mikaila Kukurudza
Mikaila is a Toronto-based writer, photographer, and fitness enthusiast. Follow her at @mikailakukurudza