Staying active and healthy during the winter can be challenging for many reasons. From a schedule packed with holiday plans to cold, unwelcoming weather to a season that invites sweet indulgence after sweet indulgence, the odds are stacked against our quests to stay fit. Even our psyches can be impacted by the winter. As the staff at the Mayo Clinic explains, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) “is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons... sapping your energy and making you feel moody.” Specific symptoms include low energy, appetite changes, oversleeping, change in weight, and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, among other things. So what can we do when it is cold outside and we lack the drive to pursue healthy activities? Try one of these ideas for sparking a bit of that much needed fitness fire!
Normal fitness routines really take a hit during the holidays. That does not have to translate to a full sedentary season though! Try mixing it up. Take ice skating, for example. Not only will you burn a few hundred calories, festive outings also aid in boosting morale, increasing your chances for further activity. Other ideas include taking a class or signing up for a holiday fun run. These events encourage ongoing activity by providing a regular, scheduled time to participate in which you are held accountable for attending (as in the class) or by giving you a goal to strive towards and something to prepare for (as in the run). You do not necessarily have to leave home to get moving though. Try some of our equipment-less exercise recommendations or make a weekend of getting your spring cleaning done early. Housekeeping requires movement and burns calories while freshening up your environment. By the time spring rolls around, you will be ready to get out of the house, so why not have the spring cleaning done beforehand?
Much can be said about how to watch what you eat during the holidays, but we aren’t here to roll out a soul crushing diet during the months of decadence. Instead, we recommend that you think about the impact that foods have on your individual drive and create a plan that keeps those things in mind. For example, if you are always tired after overeating at holiday celebrations, make it a habit to exercise before each gathering. If you know that winter means multiple mugs of warm beverages, stock your cabinets with various teas and sugar free drinks rather than high calorie hot cocoa. If the break room at work is constantly full of seasonal treats, require yourself to eat the healthy lunch you brought from home before grabbing for the sweets. This will fill your stomach (at least partially) with foods you want to be eating, minimizing the amount of space available for empty calories without forcing you to swear off of the deserts you love at this time of year.
Sometimes the biggest struggle we face is not the cold or the calories, but our internal capacity to get moving. As discussed above, some of this is environmental and can be discussed with your doctor. Other times though, we simply need a personal boost to pick ourselves up. This can be as easy as opening the blinds to let in some sunshine to more challenging ongoing tasks like warding off illnesses throughout the season. Regardless, prioritizing our mental and emotional well-being during the winter months is an important piece of staying healthy and active during the holiday season. This part of the year can be an excellent time to try something new with your hair or take steps towards addressing any hair thinning or loss. Additionally, adjustments in wardrobe, such as rocking a new item or smartly layering current clothing, can also affect our mentality. Look good, feel good!
Staying healthy and fit requires ongoing activity, eating right, maintaining hygiene and hair care, and fostering a positive environment for our mind and emotions. Winter challenges us to keep up these priorities, but we know it is possible to overcome the cold and do so. Ask yourself today – what one change can I implement to increase my health and activity level this winter? Then do it!
Photo credit: martinak15 via Flickr Creative Commons
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