Daily exercise can help curb the effects of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Q: I have seasonal affective disorder, and before I get socked by winter depression, tell me: What's the best way to deal with it? Help!

— Malcolm H., Minneapolis

A: There are several ways for you to deal with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). We strongly recommend the triumvirate of: exercising outside (a brisk walk at least 20 minutes a day), light therapy and supplemental vitamin D-3.

Exercising outside provides exposure to sunlight (lack of sunlight can cause an imbalance of two key mood-regulating neurotransmitters — serotonin and melatonin). It also improves your outlook by stimulating release of mood-boosting endorphins, helps you sleep better and makes it easier to eat more healthfully — all powerful ways to combat SAD.

Blue-light therapy for one hour a day can improve your mood significantly during the winter months, and coupling it with exercise amps its benefits.

Vitamin D-3 helps boost mood, the immune system and heart health!

Q: My doc says I'm headed for type 2 diabetes if I don't do something to get in shape. I don't mind the gym, so what's the best plan?

— Fred G., Buffalo, N.Y.

A: We're glad you asked, Fred. Turns out that what you do at the gym can revolutionize your future, preventing everything from heart attack to kidney failure and blindness — just a few of the complications associated with diabetes. (More true if you combine it with upgrades to your overall lifestyle.

1. Weight training for 59 minutes a week slashes diabetes risk by 12 percent; ramp it up to 149 minutes, and it's down by 25 percent. Opt for 150 minutes or more each week, and your risk is cut by 34 percent.

2. Prefer aerobics? Swimming, treadmill (jogging, walking), stationary bike or taking a 59-minute spin class cuts your risk by 7 percent; more than an hour, 31 percent; and 90 minutes, 52 percent.

3. Now put the two together, and fireworks happen! Go for 150 minutes of weights and 150 minutes of aerobics a week, and you can see a 59 percent drop in your risk for type 2 diabetes. And you haven't even tackled the other lifestyle life-changers — better nutrition, improved sleep habits and de-stressing.

Comment on this story

Nutritional upgrades have powerful positive effects on blood pressure, overall body inflammation, depression, weight and glucose levels, all associated with diabetes. So, avoid the five food felons: added sugars, added syrups, most saturated fat, ALL trans fats, and grains that are NOT 100 percent whole. Then choose friendly fats such as olive oil with omega-9 fatty acids and canola oil with omega-3s;

Next, get at least seven hours of shut-eye every night.

You can start in the gym, Fred. Then aim to add 10,000 steps a day with our walking plan. And don't forget those food upgrades, the right amount of sleep and meditation!

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Submit your health questions at

(c) 2012 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.