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Health Well News
5 Ways to Stay Fit This Winter
As the weather worsens and the colder months are upon us, it’s important to make sure we don’t continue the overindulgence of the holidays. While there is nothing better than comfort food when it’s cold outside, we can’t let that lead to gaining winter weight and letting our health slide. With just a little planning and some accountability, you can maintain your fitness (and maybe even improve it!) this winter. Just follow these five tips to get you going in the right direction.
There are fitness apps galore with any number of winter fitness challenges (some free) you can sign up for, no matter what your fitness level. These challenges give you a sense of accountability and accomplishment as you stick with it for 30 days to reach a predetermined goal. Whatever your interest (walking, swimming, squats, lunges, etc.) you can find something of interest to keep motivated. And better yet, grab a friend or two to join in. Making it a social occasion means you are more likely to stick with it and the extra accountability helps, too!
Even with the colder temps, it’s important to get some outside exercise time, even if it’s just a simple walk in the neighborhood. If you developed a habit of taking an evening walk in the summer, you might need to adjust that as the days are shorter and it might be too cold at night. Outside exercise helps you get fresh air and exposure to natural light which helps to regulate your circadian rhythm.
Track Your Steps
If the kids were out of school and your family took some time off your normal routine, it can sometimes be difficult to get back on track. An easy way to get yourself going again is to track your activity levels. Most cell phones and smart watches and fitness bands can help track everything from your steps to flights of stairs, to miles walked/biked/swam, to your sleeping habits. Tracking your activity level can help you be more conscious of how much physical movement you are doing during the day and keep you on track to make sure you are hitting your fitness goals.
Use What You Have
Warm blankets and your couch might have a greater pull in the cold winter months. However, don’t succumb to the temptation! And you can use what you have in your home to help you stay active. When watching your favorite television show, use the commercial breaks to squeeze in some cardio or stretches. Grab a band or hand weights and do some arm exercises while you wait for the show to resume. You can also try some yoga right from your couch! Or use a kitchen chair to get some light exercise in after dinner. Again, there are fitness apps to help with ideas and proper positioning.
Enjoy Winter’s Bounty & Stay Hydrated
Another easy addition to your winter routine is to change up your diet to include the winter harvest of vegetables and fruit. Peruse your farmer’s market and take advantage of the apples, pears, sweet potatoes, and varieties of squash that are plentiful this time of year. Staying hydrated also needs to be a priority. Winter air can be dry and if it’s cold, water might not be your first choice. Don’t be afraid to mix it up with herbal teas, coconut water, hot chocolate or kombucha. Try to limit your caffeine intake as that can dehydrate you, but if you need a pick-me-up, try green tea or white tea instead.
Don’t let the winter months take you down the wrong path! Keep those good habits going to get back on track in the new year and enjoy a healthy and active winter season!
4 Budget Friendly Family Activities
Depending on where you live and the weather you experience, winter can be a challenging time for families. It can be equally hard for kids and adults to be cooped up inside during the winter. Below are five budget friendly and even kid friendly activities you can do during the winter to keep boredom at bay and connect with each other.
Enjoy the Holiday Lights
In almost every town in America there is “the Christmas Street.” You know, it’s the one where it seems that the whole block decorates in coordinating themes for Christmas. Some towns even have elaborate displays in the downtown area or in a local park. Ask around to find the best place to view holiday lights. Bundle up the kids, grab some hot chocolate and take a drive around your neighborhood or town to see all the brilliant light displays. It costs little money, and you might just find yourself establishing a new family tradition!
If the weather is just too frightful, set up regular game nights. Let a different member of the family pick the game each week, make an easy dinner (or order in), turn off the electronics and enjoy! You might just find out some mild-mannered members of the family are actually very competitive. And if you have kids, you can easily use these opportunities to teach problem solving skills or improve their vocabulary or teach them teamwork. In addition to board and card games, puzzles are also a great activity and if you really like the finished product, have it framed and hung on your wall.
Another great family activity is to cook together if it’s just too cold to be outside. Let each family member pick a meal to help prepare during the week or on the weekend. Each family member can make their list of ingredients, help with the shopping, and then prepare the meal (with the proper supervision if the kids are little, of course). Those who do not help to prepare the meal can be on clean-up duty, so everyone is helping, and one person isn’t stuck doing all the work!
Another great way to add a little variety is to keep an eye on any winter festivals or local events in your area. For many of these events, kids can go for free, keeping costs down for the whole family. Free sleigh rides to face painting to rides and games, you never know what you might find and it’s a great way to keep up with what’s happening in your community. You may even make some new friends while out and about!
Think about volunteering in your community, which typically only costs your time and is a great way to model giving back to any kids in your orbit. Depending on where you live and your interests, you might volunteer at a soup kitchen, food bank, animal shelter, library, etc. Check with the city where you live and see what opportunities might be available.
Staying Healthy This Winter
The winter months can be a challenge if you just can’t stay healthy. Staying indoors and being near people can allow for the spread of unwanted germs. This can increase your chances of catching a variety of illnesses including flu, colds, or even the dreaded Covid-19 and its variations. Following just a few important steps can help keep you and your family healthy so nobody misses out on the fun the season can bring.
Just by washing your hands frequently you can protect yourself and prevent the spread of various illnesses. Regularly wiping down surfaces with a sanitizing cleanser and keeping your distance from those you know are sick also helps. Additional tips include staying hydrated and flushing toxins out of your system, getting enough sleep to keep your immune system in good shape and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth to avoid catching anything that might be going around.
Make Good Choices
Don’t fall into the “comfort food” trap of eating for comfort all the time and foregoing proper nutrition. Indulging occasionally is not a problem but getting into a spiral of unhealthy eating can only lead to bad choices and health consequences. Make sure you enjoy a diet of winter’s best vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains. Keep an eye on portion size as well.
Active in Mind & Body
Shorter days and cold temperatures can make it hard to get moving. The temptation to stay in and stay warm is strong! Make sure you engage in regular physical activity and keep an eye on your mental health as well. It’s important to engage in regular physical activity to reduce anxiety, lower your blood pressure, improve your sleep quality, and maintain or lose weight, depending on your goals. Regular exercise also helps keep your mental health in check. Incorporating regular breathing exercises and meditation is also a great idea.
Winter months can be difficult for some but having a plan to keep your body moving and your mind strong is a great way to thrive this winter and set yourself up for a fabulous Spring!