Stay Healthy With These 8 Winter Health Tips
When winter hits, it’s both appealing and easy to switch into hibernation mode. There are shows to stream, carbs to eat, and pajama pants to wear.
Giving in to this lifestyle affects our physical health, energy level, and mental health. A lot of us seem to hit a winter slump, forgoing our fitness, nutrition, and health in general. Here are eight ways to stay healthy and fit throughout the winter season.
1. Get Outside
In some parts of the country, the cold may be a reasonable excuse to stay indoors, but for other parts, you can layer up and still get outside. As long as you’re wearing the proper attire, you can engage in some activities including skiing, snowshoeing, or skating.
Being outside is good for you because the natural light and physical activity are both mood boosters. Studies have shown another perk to being active outdoors is an improvement in mental health, concentration, and self-esteem.
2. Find Alternative Ways to Stay Active
Fitness is not limited to the gym. Mix it up, get a class pass to try everything from spinning to CrossFit.
Instead of going out for dinner with friends, go indoor climbing, swim laps together at the pool, or join acrobat classes. You can take up a new activity together like Zumba or boxing.
Local recreation centers have plenty of options too, from pickup basketball/hockey games to badminton clubs to squash drop-in. You can also pop into the weight rooms for a strengthening/cardio session.
Something to note: Most places will offer a free first class or a discount for your first week of classes. There are also discount shopping sites where various options are available if you’re trying to save money.
3. Get a Partner in Crime
Some say they lack the motivation to make health a priority. Construct a support system. Get an accountability buddy, build a routine, and listen to motivating podcasts.
Create goals and reasons to take care of yourself. By holding yourself accountable to another person, you’re more likely to keep showing up.
4. Eat Better
Food is so darn good. The feeling is pretty universal. You don’t need to eat perfectly, just eat better.
It’s old advice, but a good standby: keep healthy snacks in the kitchen. The more veggies, fruit, and nuts you have on hand, the more likely you are to eat them.
Quick tip: after you get these items from the store, before you put them away, portion them or cut them, so they’re ready to eat. Keep snap peas, sliced peppers, chopped cucumber, and baby carrots at the ready, so when hunger hits, good options are available.
Get more greens into your system and cook more lean proteins. Try to make heart-healthy choices that won’t cause your cholesterol to skyrocket.
Whether you are looking to eat more plant-based foods or need to give up dairy for health reasons, here's a list of dairy alternatives to add to your diet.
If you don’t want ‘it’ in your life, keep ‘it’ out of your house
This elusive ‘it’ could be any number of undesirable things or vices. I know that if I have cookies in the cupboard, they won’t be there for long.
I make a point not to buy them, and I don’t peruse the cookie aisle at the grocery store because I know how weak I am when it comes to treats. This mentality can go for many things: cigarettes, alcohol, and negativity.
If you let your vices into your home, they’ll turn into habits.
5. Take a Break From the Screen
If we’re not checking our feed, we’re on the computer or watching television. This isn’t great for a few reasons.
It affects your vision; staring at a phone screen all day can lead to headaches, blurred vision, dry/sore eyes, and muscle strain. Staring at screens also decrease our blink rate by about half.
Social media sites damage our self-esteem and add pressure to be an idealized version of ourselves in the ongoing quest for more likes. Screen time is a passive activity, and we spend our time sucked into a vortex of laziness while we watch episode after episode. Put the screens away.
6. Take Vitamins
We see the sun less in the winter, and we want to maintain our health – especially with all of the colds and cases of the flu out there.
- Vitamin D helps fight against certain conditions like depression, heart attacks, and osteoporosis.
- To help keep your immune system happy, vitamin C is an answer.
- Iron helps boost energy for the dark, lazy winter days.
- Calcium helps maintain healthy blood pressure and build/protect healthy bones.
- Omega-3s helps treat depression, including seasonal affective disorder.
Taking vitamins can help boost you out of the winter doldrums but get proper advice if you’re not sure which vitamins your body needs.
7. Get Enough Sleep
Ideally, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you get less than that, it affects your alertness, memory, stress levels, blood pressure, and can lead to long-term and serious health problems.
However, if you get more than that you’re increasing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and you’re more likely to have weight issues. Stick to a sleep schedule and make getting the right amount of sleep a priority. You’ll notice a difference in your health.
8. Make Mental Health a Priority
In the winter, some folks suffer from seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that hits when you don’t get enough sunlight. Try light therapy, exercise therapy, talk to your friends and family about how you’re feeling and seek sunlight if possible.
Our bodies aren’t meant to go into a hibernation state. We’re meant to be kinetic, to move. Take care of yourself, both your inside and your outside. Find ways to expand your happiness and stay healthy in the coldest of months.