How to Get Healthier in Winter While Stuck at Home
By Dr. Molly Casey
Life for many is sedentary when things are normal. Throw in the winter season and it becomes even more sedentary. Add a pandemic to the mix and even those who are very active may find themselves struggling to get through the winter season in a healthy and active manner.
Alas, there is some hope. Keep it simple and follow through, and take advantage of the tips below.
One of the easiest ways to start and assure you follow through with something is to not bite off more than you can chew. Start small. Instead of trying to implement big segments of workouts or activity time or leisure time that will contribute to your health, start with small bits of time. This is often a problem with people who make New Year’s resolutions -- it’s too time-consuming in their existing lifestyle routine to be maintained.
Instead, pick 10-15 minutes of movement, such as time in the morning or evening -- or better yet, both -- when you do sit-ups, push-ups, or do kettle bell swings or wall sits when you take a break from work. Think about it -- if you did 50 sit-ups and 25 push-ups every single day for 90-120 days (the length of winter season and a bit more), there would be some legitimate growth in strength and health as a result. Even if this is completed in two sessions throughout the day, growth would occur.
Walking is underrated. And it can be done in the cold. Movement is life. The body needs to move. With a sedentary life and now life contained primarily to the house, less and less movement is taking place. Walk -- it’s that simple. It is also entirely OK if you don’t love the cold. It is OK to be uncomfortable and not like certain aspects of life. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t participate or carry through with activities if they are uncomfortable. Growth does not happen in one’s comfort zone. Muscles grow bigger because cells in tissue actually tear and then rebuild. Dress appropriately, bundle up with layers, and walk outside. Be consistent.
Find Something of Interest
Try new things. These are weird times, and for many, quite disorienting and depressing. It is easy to get into, and stay, in a rut when things are off-kilter. One way to approach this is to try new things. You don’t know if you like something if you have never tried it. You don’t know the benefits if you haven’t engaged in the activity. Sure, there are limits to what can be tried because of different stages of lockdown and social distancing. But there is always something you can do or try. What about hiking (yes, even in the cold)? What about snowshoeing? Cross-country or downhill skiing? In warmer climates you can still surf or walk the beach. Try a CrossFit class.
Eat Seasonally and Cook More
Take more time with your food. Most of us are stuck at home far more than usual. Cook more. Use the time wisely. Choose foods that are native to the winter season. Here is a great link for seasonal fruits and vegetables. If cooking -- or healthy cooking -- is not your forte (or even if it is) and you’re looking to expand your skills a bit, take an online cooking class. This is a great way of growing your skills and living healthy, as well as supporting other businesses during these odd times.
Healthy living in the winter season is possible and it can even be fun. It may require that you get outside of your comfort zone. Think a bit outside of the box. Be willing to grow. Even during normal times, people go off their diet and exercise regimen during the winter months. Now, more than ever, it is time to create and engage in healthy behavioral patterns and habits. It takes consistency and follow-through,but your body will thank you for it.
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