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How to Stay Healthy and Fit during Winter

By Kim Kash

 

As the weather cools and darkness falls earlier, it’s tempting to ease off on exercise and head indoors for a night of carryout in front of the telly. But junk food and inactivity are big mistakes at this time of year. A much better way to greet autumn is with a reinvigorated fitness regime and a fired-up plan for healthy eating.

Here are five ways to stay healthy and strong through the cold weather. Give these a go and see if you don’t feel warmer, fitter and livelier—right on through cold and flu season!

 

1. Switch to a cool-weather fitness regime. It’s fun and healthy to add some variety to your workout. Why not take the changing of the seasons as an opportunity to rethink your routine? If you played tennis all summer, you could transition to squash—or try out something that uses a completely different skill set, like climbing or circuit training. You could also take up swimming at the indoor pool, or sign up for a yoga class. If you’re always chilly, try hot yoga!

 

2. Stay physical and socially active. Moodiness and depression are as common as colds and fever in the winter. Of course, exercise can help with this by generating endorphins—those chemicals that create that feeling of powerful well-being during and after a great workout. Studies are now also suggesting that endorphins play an important role in a healthy immune system. (Another reason why tip #1 is so important!) Equally important to your mental health is a regular dose of social activity, where you are surrounded by people you love. When you’re tired and it’s cold and dark outside, a nesting instinct can take over. Once in a while, it feels wonderful to burrow into the blankets and hibernate, but don’t make a habit of it. Soon you’ll find yourself in a downward spiral of inactivity. Build and maintain an active social network of family and dear mates. It’s good for you!

3. Stay hydrated. It’s important to drink lots of water year-round, but when the weather gets cold, humidity drops and super-drying heating systems get switched on. For many, consumption of hot tea and coffee also increases. Some studies show that caffeine in large amounts (5 or more cups a day) can have a diuretic effect, which means it pulls water out of your system. So keep your tea and coffee breaks under control. To keep your nasal passages hydrated and clear, use a neti pot or other nasal irrigator. If you’ve never tried one before, the sensation might seem quite odd at first. But soon you’ll wonder how you got along without doing this simple, cleansing practice on a regular basis.

4. Pile on the veg. In the summertime we tend to eat lighter, and that often means salads for dinner or other light meals loaded with fresh veg. In cool weather, though, it’s common to crave warmer, heavier meals. Just as you’ll likely change your exercise regime to fit the cooler weather, you’ll also be switching over from light, often raw salads and fresh greens to heavier, warmer, more filling veg. Winter choices include plenty of colorful roots: beets, turnips, parsnips, and rutabagas. These are all rich and sweetly delicious oven-roasted. Beet and turnip greens are also incredibly healthy—and they taste great par-boiled, then briefly pan-fried.

5. Spice up your winter cooking. When you’ve come in from a cold, wet day, it may be tempting to dig into a heavy, meat-based meal. Soul-satisfying, to be sure, but a spree of that kind of eating will leave you bloated and miserable. Instead, consider using warming spices to heat you up from the inside. Ginger, a traditional immune system booster, lends a powerfully warming flavor to stir-fries, sweet potato dishes, even baked apples. Buy whole ginger root and grate peeled pieces with a standard box grater. Use a little at first, and add more to your cooking as your palate adjusts to its delicious pungency. Cinnamon is another traditional warming spice, valued in traditional Chinese medicine for its warming qualities, especially when combined with ginger. The Ceylon variety, though harder to find, is considered healthier and tastier. Finally, if your household can tolerate some real heat, use cayenne or other hot pepper to add a fiery kick to chilies, stews, and stir-fries. Capsaicin, its active ingredient, opens and drains nasal passages and boosts immunity, among many other benefits.

 

Take these tips to heart, and you’ll enjoy an active, social, and spicy winter season!

 

Article provided by Beachbody Exercise Programme

 

Sources:

 

http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/social-life

 

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeinated-drinks/AN01661

 

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72

 

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=140

 

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=68

 

http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/10762800252909865



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