Winter is here. For many people that brings an urge to practically hibernate; you just want to stay cozy and warm. Cozy and warm is great, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t stay in shape. Here are five fabulous tips for staying healthy during the winter months.
Sleep Smart – A recent study from BYU shows that if you go to bed and get up at the same time every day you are less likely be overweight. It’s believed that your metabolism functions better with stable sleep patterns. Remember to avoid caffeine and alcohol 4-6 hours before bedtime as these stimulants can prevent you from getting good sleep. A cooler room with enough blankets to stay warm, and a dark space will also help to promote healthy sleep. How much do you need? Aim for between 6.5 and 8.5 hours a night.
Vitamin C – Vitamin C is essential for normal body function. Although there is conflicting research about whether or not Vitamin C can prevent or shorten cold symptoms, it appears that higher levels of vitamin C are a good marker for health according a study from the University of Michigan. Dr. Mark Moyad, the study researcher, suggests taking 500 mg as a supplement in addition to eating 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C. The best fruit and vegetable sources are:
Oranges and grapefruits
Raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries
Cauliflower and broccoli
Green and red peppers
Exercise – It is very hard to stay motivated during winter, so get your workout in first. Don’t put if off. The short winter days make this even harder, so try to exercise before it gets dark out. This can be a real challenge in the winter time. Ideally it would be great to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine, but winter conditions don’t always allow for that. If you can’t be outside head to the gym or try a workout DVD or YouTube video and exercise in your living room. Home gym equipment can be purchased inexpensively and used for fitness year-round.
You can even go to the mall and walk some laps; the key is to keep moving as much as possible. Even walking just 15-30 minutes a day can make a huge difference in your fitness level. According to the American Heart Association, walking as exercise is enough to prevent heart attacks and extend life expectancy.
And as soon as there is a break in the weather, get out and move that body. Bored of walking? Why not try dancing lessons? This can be a fun way to get out and stay fit in the winter.
Avoid Alcohol – Winter time is full of parties and festivities. Alcoholic drinks are full of “empty” calories meaning that they provide very little nutritional benefit. Too much alcohol is a sure way to get out of shape during the winter. Try to stick to one glass of beer or wine a day or less.
Avoid Carbohydrate Loading – Winter makes you crave carbs. Less sunlight means lower serotonin levels which cause hunger. Less sunlight can also be a trigger for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Instead of loading up on carbs enjoy different meal choices. For lunch, make sure you get plenty of protein, veggies and dairy products to lessen afternoon hunger pangs. Healthy carbohydrate choices are sweet potatoes and oatmeal. Check out these other eating tips for SAD. Try to get as much sunlight as possible since this stimulates serotonin release and suppresses hunger. If needed, there are even special sun lamps that you can buy to get enough light during wintertime.
Just because it is cold, wet and dark doesn’t mean you can’t stay in shape. Follow these ways to keep fit and you will be full of energy come springtime.
Joe Alter is a fitness buff, writer, and the CEO of Yowza Fitness, a leading manufacturer of home fitness equipment, including treadmills, elliptical machines, and stationary bikes. He is on a mission to lead the home fitness industry to a new era of innovation, with biomechanically superior cardiovascular fitness equipment.