How to Stay Healthy and Fit During the Winter
The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year. Unfortunately, that means staying healthy all season long quickly becomes the last of our priorities.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. We have tips and tricks to help you stay healthy and fit during the winter season.
Exercise At Home
Too cold to head out to the gym? Why not exercise at home. Here are a few simple exercises you can do at home.
Whether you plan to exercise at home or brave the cold and go the gym, it’s important to keep in mind that the risk of muscle injury is higher during the cold months. That is according to Dr. Luis Palacio, Director of Sports Medicine at Northern NevEada Medical Group, in an interview with the Reno Gazette Journal.
The body’s shiver responses and reduced circulation increases the risk for injury during the winter months. Additionally, the cold may also slow down our “sensory mechanisms”. This means that when our nerves are colder, limbs may feel a little numb which could lead to to overexertion and possibly injury. So doctors and fitness experts recommend doing a proper “warm up” before any physical activity. Warm up exercises consists of exercises that raise the body temperature and muscle temperature. They essentially prepare the body for activity. It is also a way to gradually increase the intensity of the activity safely thus helping prevent injuries.
Here are a few warm up exercises you can do:
- Hamstring Stretch
- Chest and Bicep Stretch
- Triceps Stretch
Cold Weather Running
Are you an avid runner? You can still safely enjoy running by following these tips:
- Temperatures in the 30s and below tend to “lock up” the body causing stiff joints and muscles so unless you’re an experienced runner with plenty of experience running in the cold, it’s better to wait until the weather warms a little.
- Warm up at home before you head out.
- Once you start running, your body will warm up fast and will cool down fast once you stop so dress in layers. Choose clothing with sweat-wicking properties and zippered vents that you can open if you get too hot while running. Most runners use the 10 or 20 degrees rule. For example, if it's 30 outside, dress like its 40 or 50 degrees. This is called your running temperature.
- Use a shoe with lots of traction and wear thick socks that keep your feet warm and dry.
- Choose a path that is cleared of snow or ice and be on the lookout for slippery black ice.
- Avoid running in cold windy days.
- Finally, get out of your clothes as soon as you get home or bring a change of clothes with you.
How Cold Weather Affects Your Appetite
Have you ever wondered why you tend to crave comfort foods during the winter? Science might have the answer for that. Researchers at the Carleton University in Ottawa theorize that seasonal changes may affect many hormones related to hunger and appetite including glucocorticoids, ghrelin and leptin. These changes lead to reward-seeking behaviors like craving comfort foods.
Researchers also think that fewer daylight hours can affect our food cravings. Sunlight is one of the factors that lead to the release of that “feel good hormone”, serotonin. Carbohydrates in most comfort foods help increase serotonin levels. Researchers think that this would explain why we crave carbohydrates most in the winter as a way to improve our mood.
It can be hard to turn down all that good food during the holidays but you can compromise by making your favorite comfort foods lighter. Start with simple substitutions but choosing their healthier counterpart. Love bread? Why not choose whole wheat multigrain bread instead. It may not seem a lot but these simple changes add up in the end.
Foods You Should Be Eating All Winter
These are the foods you should be eating more of during the winter months:
Foods rich in Vitamin D – A 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 14% to 18% of Americans do not get adequate vitamin D during the winter. It is reported that vitamin D peaks around September, drops during the winter and is at its lowest by March.
Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced as a result to our exposure to sunlight. We need vitamin D in order to absorb calcium for good bone health. In the winter, people can have inadequate Vitamin D due to their minimum sun exposure. Thankfully, vitamin D occurs in a few foods like salmon, tuna and other fatty fishes, cheese, egg yolks, and foods fortified with vitamin D. pair it with calcium-rich foods like dairy, kale, spinach, collards, white beans, and etc. Don’t worry if you can’t find fresh spinach or kale. Frozen spinach or kale has just as many nutrients as its fresh counterpart.
Omega fatty acids – Omega 3 fatty acids help combat inflammation and helps with join pain and stiffness. Omega 3 has also been found in limited studies to have beneficial effects on mild to moderate depression (especially for those affected with mild to moderate seasonal affective disorder).
Vegetable soup - Nothing warms the heart on a cold day like a hot bowl of soup. Add in lentils, beans and root vegetables plus use low sodium vegetable stock to create a low-calorie yet filling soup. We recommend trying this rustic vegetable soup. Plus, lentils and vegetables are rich in dietary fiber that helps you feel fuller.
High-protein breakfast - According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “protein has the potential to play a key role in several aspects of body weight regulation”. Research has also shown that you get the most benefit by consuming at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast. They found that breakfast eaters who had more protein in the mornings were less hungry during the day. Try to stick to lean proteins like chicken and fish. The great news is you can eat dark meat too!
Simply Slender Cleanse
Feel better and less bloated with a one day cleanse by drinking Simply Slender Charcoal Lemonade. Simply Slender Charcoal Lemonade has activated charcoal to help lessen bloating and beneficial Green Tea extracts rich in antioxidants!
You can also go on a 48 hour cleanse with the Simply Slender Lemonade Diet!
Simply Slender Full Caps promotes the feeling of fullness and helps you cut calories. Glucomannan is a natural dietary fiber with zero calories to help you lose weight during the holidays.
"Exercise injuries more likely in cold weather" - Reno Gazette Journal - January 20, 2016
"Are Exercise Injuries More Common in the Cold?" - Shape
"Here's How to Prep for Running in the Cold" - Runners World, September 18, 2018
"Running During Winter Sucks. But It Doesn't Have To." - Esquire, January 18, 2017
"10 Tips to Make Winter Running Less Miserable" - Runners World, September 12, 2018
"Do I Get Enough Vitamin D in the Winter?" - New York Times, February 16, 2018
"The Truth About Vitamin D: Why You Need Vitamin D" - WebMD
"Frozen vs. Fresh? Which Vegetables Are Best" - Greatist, March 5, 2013
"Top Foods for Calcium and Vitamin D" - WebMD
"How to Stay Healthy, Fit and Safe During the Winter Season" - Pinnacle Health
"How Winter Affects Our Eating" - Everyday Health
"Fish oil supplements: Can they treat depression?" - Mayo Clinic