How to Stay Healthy, Fit and Safe During the Winter Season

The Winter season can be busy and exciting. With so many events like family dinners, holiday parties, and the preparation and planning for gift giving, we have plenty of distractions to keep us from focusing on our health and taking care of ourselves as we would normally.

Furthermore, once the holiday season is over, many people experience a lull in their motivation to stay active. Some people begin to experience depression or feelings of anxiousness over expenses that accumulated throughout the holidays. Others let diet and healthy eating habits fall by the wayside. Often, given the weather, exercise is sacrificed for warm nights spent indoors on the couch.

With shorter days and colder weather, finding the motivation to stay healthy and fit can be difficult. And that can lay the foundation for a weakened immune system, posing a greater risk of developing illness or injury. No wonder they call it the winter blues. What’s more, the colder weather creates a number of safety risks to us and to those around us, and some of these we may not even be aware of.

Recognizing safety risks and patterns of illness or low energy ahead of time is key to preventing them — or at least to dealing with them as they arise. There are countless winter wellness tips and ideas available to ensure you have lots of ways to stay healthy, fit and safe this holiday season and beyond. These healthy winter habits will help you to recognize where your health falls short and what you can do to boost it during this time of year.

Diet and Exercise Tips

While the winter season might increase the risk for weather-related injury, the biggest risk to our overall health is a lack of attention to diet and exercise routines. During the holidays, we find ourselves so busy finalizing travel plans, finishing up with tasks at work, buying and wrapping gifts and crossing everything off of our checklists that we forget to prioritize our healthy habits.

As if all the insanity of the holidays isn’t detrimental enough to our healthy habits, the chilly and unpleasant weather can also make it very difficult to find the motivation to get to the gym or head outdoors for exercises. In tandem with this, the additional time spent indoors means many of us snack more than we would typically at other times of the year. This combination that can quickly add on the pounds and reduce our happiness and self-esteem over time.

Maintaining proper diet and exercise routines is also necessary to ward off illness. It is estimated that up to 20% of the United Sates population gets the cold or flu each year. Wintertime presents a higher likelihood to develop cold and flu than during any other season. Here are some winter diet and exercise tips to show you how to stay healthy and fit during winter’s colder months:

1. Calm Your Carb Cravings

The cold season tends to ignite our cravings for more carbs and comfort foods. Why? After you consume these delicious treats, your serotonin levels rise, making your brain think you are happier. And as the day wears on, your carb cravings get stronger and stronger.

To counter this, try eating a protein-packed breakfast to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. If by the time the afternoon rolls around you’re still craving sweets or carbs, be sure to have low-fat and healthy snacks on hand. However, if you can, finding a way to increase your serotonin levels without food is the best way to beat the carb cravings.

2. Add Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are a healthy type of fat that are naturally found in many food types including fish, plant seeds and nuts. Omega 3 fatty acids are great for reducing joint pain and stiffness as they are a natural anti-inflammatory. Studies have also shown that omega 3 fatty acids help lower levels of depression, which people commonly feel during the shorter days of winter.

3. Cook With Mushrooms

There are several species of mushrooms that have immune-boosting health benefits. That’s because mushrooms have naturally-occurring antibiotics. This gives them medicinal properties, which helps us to fight off many types of illnesses. Next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to stock up on varieties like white button or shitake mushrooms and add them to your meals this winter.

4. Eat More Fiber

Soluble fiber found in apples, oats and nuts is an important way to decrease inflammation and boost immune system function. Soluble fiber also helps reduce cholesterol levels in the body and aids in weight loss and protection against diabetes. This is an especially important winter health tip for seniors who require a high-fiber diet to protect their digestive systems.

5. Eat More Green and Orange Vegetables

Sticking primarily to vegetables and fruits that are dark green and orange is important in ensuring you’re getting healthy nutrients, sugars and fats. Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, squash, carrots and oranges are all delicious during the winter. There are plenty of recipes available to incorporate these items into your regular winter diet.

6. Cook With Spices

Onions, garlic, ginger and cilantro are the perfect items to add flavor to your dishes. Not only do they make food taste great, but they’re also shown to help improve immune function. Turmeric is a spice traditionally used in Chinese and Indian medicine. Its main active ingredient is called curcumin, which gives curry its yellow color. This spice helps to combat a number of conditions including inflammation and heart disease, and it acts as a powerful antioxidant.

7. Plan Your Exercises a Week in Advance

Try to stick to a weekly exercise plan so you don’t put off your regular exercise activities. On Sunday night, write down your exercise schedule for the next seven days. Choose your exact workout routines, activities or exercises for each day and how long they will be. Knowing what you’re scheduled to do each day ahead of time makes it easier to stick to. If you can, line up your workout schedule with a friend to encourage each other to stick with it and stay motivated.

8. Workout at Home

If you have no desire to head outdoors for your workout, then never fear. There are plenty of resources online that supply fun workout videos and exercises. These resources offer a variety of workouts including yoga, strength training, aerobics and other body-weight exercises. Check out Pinterest for tons of great resources so you can get fit in the comfort of your own living room.

9. Get a Wii Fit

Just like the online workout videos, a Nintendo Wii Fit is a fun and convenient way to stay fit during winter and have fun at the same time. This gaming device provides virtual workouts to direct the user through a number of exercises like yoga, strength training, aerobics and more. It can be adjusted to fit your personal goals from cardiovascular improvement and disease prevention to muscle building and weight loss.

These diet and exercises tips are great, specifically in the winter, but they can also be used year-round. By reminding yourself that spring will be here before you know it, you’ll stay motivated to provide proper attention to your body and health habits during the winter.

Winter Weather Safety Tips

Research has shown that more preventable injuries occur during winter than during any other season. This is due largely to the weather conditions we face during the colder months.

And, because we spend more time indoors, winter increases the risk of at-home accidents as well, including fires and falls.

Additionally, there are plenty of festive occasions and gatherings happening during the winter season. These events unfortunately present opportunities for dangerous behavior such as drinking and driving.

With much more risk to our personal safety and the safety of others around us, it’s important be aware and cautious. Here are some great winter safety tips:

1. Get Your Vehicle Inspected

Each year there are, on average, 480,000 injuries caused by weather-related vehicle crashes. Ensure your vehicle is deemed safe enough to drive in winter conditions. This in large part means having the right tires for your local weather conditions.