Four Important Winter Health TipsDecember 6th, 2010
Looking great is really just a fringe benefit of working out. The real reason to exercise and stay fit is to maintain your health. Staying healthy means you feel better, you don’t have to go to the doctor as often, you have more energy to work and to do the things you love, and yes, you look better.
But staying healthy involves a lot more than just exercise, especially during winter when the weather is harsher, and colds and flu abound. Following winter workout tips will help you stay in shape. But by taking just a few extra steps during the winter months, you can also maintain your health throughout the year.
It’s instinctive to want to drink more water during the summer. It’s hot, you want to cool off, and a nice glass of ice water just makes you feel better. But don’t skimp on the water during the winter. The air is much drier when it’s cold out, and even though you may not be sweating as much, your body can still become dehydrated.
Because it’s cold, you may also tend to drink more hot beverages such as coffee, tea, and cocoa. That’s fine, just remember to balance them out with water, too. Conventional wisdom calls for six to eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day for optimum hydration, but needs can vary from person to person. In addition, some medications can cause dry mouth, be diuretics, or just make you feel thirsty more often. Talk to your doctor about how much water you should drink per day, and then stick to it, even when it’s cold outside. Also, remember to keep your skin hydrated in the dry winter air, too. Skin is the body’s largest organ. Keep it healthy, and it will help to keep your entire body healthy.
Watch Your Calories
Winter means comfort food. From rich casseroles and stews, to holiday treats like cookies and pie, the winter months can be a mine field of caloric temptation. It’s also easy to overeat if you’re not as active in colder weather. This doesn’t mean you have to subsist on salads throughout the season. It just means you need to eat those winter treats in moderation, and make adjustments when you can.
If you’re eating at someone else’s home, or at a restaurant, try eating a small bowl of broth-based soup or a salad before you dig into that hearty casserole laden with pasta, sauce, cheese, and the like. You’ll feel full sooner, and will be less likely to load up on the high-calorie food. If you’re the one preparing the meal, use whole grain pastas, low-fat cheeses, and reduced-fat sauces when preparing meals. Winter foods can taste just as good without being as bad for you.
Don’t Skip Your Workout
It’s cold, and all you want to do is put on a pair of fleece pajamas, some thick fuzzy socks, and curl up on the couch with a feel-good holiday movie. That’s okay to do once in a while, just make sure that sedentary indulgence isn’t replacing your workout regimen.
If you’re a runner, it may be difficult to maintain your routine during the winter, especially if you live somewhere that sees a lot of snow, ice, and winter storms. Even if you bundle up in winter workout clothes to fight the freezing weather, running outside can still be a hazard if there’s ice on the ground. That weather may also prevent you from driving to the gym. The solution is simple—buy a treadmill for your home. You can keep up with your running while staying warm and safe inside. If space is limited, opt for a folding treadmill that you can store under your bed or in a closet. Set aside time every day for a workout, then reward yourself with a cup of sugar-free hot cocoa and your favorite holiday movie.
Clear The Air
When most people think of staying healthy and in shape, exercise and eating are the first things that come to mind. But what about the air you’re breathing? We’re not referring to cigarette smoke because if you’re serious about maintaining your health, you don’t smoke, and you avoid being around cigarette smoke as much as possible. Other than the obvious hazards to your lungs, there are toxins and microscopic particles that can make you sick, even in your own home.
Hopefully, you’re already vigilant about changing your air conditioning filter every three months. But to go the extra mile during the winter, spend a little more on a filter that catches more than just dust. High-end filters for the home are electrostatically charged to attract and hold tiny debris such as mold spores, bacteria, and even particles that may carry viruses. During cold and flu season, a heavy duty filter may help keep you from catching anything. If you don’t mind the added expense, these kinds of filters are also great in the summer because they can also capture pet dander and pollen.
Just remember that staying healthy isn’t just about getting 30 minutes of cardio a day. By taking into account your overall health, you’ll get a lot more benefit from your workout.