Winter can be the season for indulging in cookies and hibernating on the couch. Or it can be the season for savoring a bowl of vegetable soup and taking a walk in your coziest jacket. The choice is yours. If you like the sound of the second option, here are some tips to help you stay on course.
- Winterize your exercise. When the weather permits, walking, jogging, and biking are great cardio activities year-round. But if you live in or travel to colder climes, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and snowshoeing are fun alternatives. The nip in the air helps you feel more alert and invigorated.
- Stay warm out there. Before going out in the cold, bundle up in loose-fitting layers. Make the innermost layer a moisture-wicking fabric (not cotton). Add a water-resistant coat and shoes, plus a warm hat and scarf. And don’t forget your mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
- Come in from the cold. Another option when it’s cold and icy outside is to bring your workout indoors. Go to the gym, walk at the mall, swim in an indoor pool, join a dance class, or exercise to a fitness video.
- Beat the winter blues. For some people, the gray days of winter translate into a gloomy mood. To boost your spirits, stay socially engaged and physically active. Watch for signs of winter depression, such as a down or hopeless mood, low energy, overeating, oversleeping, and social withdrawal. If you think you might be depressed, talk with your doctor about treatment.
- Put the D in diet. The body can make vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight, but production often drops in winter. To compensate, get plenty of the vitamin from foods. Good sources include vitamin D–fortified milk, juice, and soy drinks as well as fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
- Veg out the right way. At the supermarket, shop for colorful, healthful, in-season fruits and vegetables. Clementines are packed with vitamin C. Bananas are loaded with potassium. And sweet potatoes and winter squash are rich in vitamin A.
- Be kind to your skin. Cold air and low humidity can lead to dry, itchy skin, which may flake or crack. To protect your skin, limit showers or baths to no more than 10 minutes and use warm (not hot) water. Afterward, blot dry gently and slather on a moisturizing cream or ointment.
- Get tough on germs. Reduce the spread of germs that cause colds and flu. Wash your hands often for about 20 seconds. Soap and water are best, but if they aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
One last suggestion: It doesn’t have to be New Year’s Day for you to resolve to make a healthy change in your lifestyle. Set a goal that’s specific, measurable, and realistically achievable. Then create a plan for when, where, and how you’ll work toward it. By putting your plan into action, you’ll end the season healthier than you started it.