Baby, it may be cold outside, but staying active and eating nutritious foods are important ways to help stay healthy all year round. If you find yourself hibernating under covers versus bundling up for an outdoor walk, or reaching for indulgent comfort foods instead of your usual nutritious diet, you are not alone.
And though the winter months can wreak havoc on physical activity and eating habits, a few small, creative solutions can make all the difference.
Healthy Habits Have No Holidays
Icy sidewalks or cold conditions that aggravate your joints are legitimate concerns and real obstacles to outdoor activity as we get older. Add to that the holiday season with its abundance of rich dishes that you’ve waited all year to enjoy – and getting together with family members to enjoy them with – it’s no surprise that healthy eating habits tend to decline in the winter months.
If there’s a time of year when it’s most important to focus on healthy habits such as diet and activity, it’s the cold weather season. That’s because regular physical activity and good nutrition may help with immune system function.
Being active is also a great way to reduce stress and improve your overall mood.
Five Healthy Habits to Try This Winter
1. Warm up to seasonal exercise. Breathing in cold, fresh air can be remarkably invigorating. Check the weather conditions first (skip the activity if it’s dangerously cold or icy), then dress in layers to keep you warm at the start but allow you to peel off layers as your core body temperature heats up. Take advantage of the snow and consider snowshoeing, downhill or cross-country skiing, or simply walking or hiking in the winter wonderland just outside your door. Winter is also a time when vitamin D levels tend to drop, so step outside to get some sunshine and an extra dose of vitamin D!
2. Turn screen time into active time. In today’s digital era, there are innumerable fitness apps and videos available online and free of charge. While many workout videos don’t require any equipment at all – just your own bodyweight or everyday items, like a sturdy chair – it can help if you have some basics at home, like hand weights, resistance bands and a floor mat. You can also improvise, using soup cans as hand weights, large bottles of water as kettlebells, and a countertop for pushups or triceps dips.
3. Mind your mental health. Staying indoors can feel isolating at times, not to mention the darker days that can cast a shadow on our moods. Take advantage of the quiet alone time by meditating or doing some journaling. Simply writing down one thing each day that you’re grateful for can help lessen depression, help you get better sleep, and be great for your overall well-being.
4. Mix in extra nutrition. Find ways to plus up your favorite recipes with nutritious and flavorful add-ins: use milk or a high-protein drink instead of water for oatmeal, add vegetables to homemade chili or casseroles, or cook brown rice in chicken stock. It’s a tasty way to add more nutrients with just a few small tweaks.
5. Rethink your drink. When you’re feeling cold, sometimes it’s hard to remember to stay hydrated – the last thing you want is to sip a cold glass of water. Plus, there’s less moisture in the air meaning you lose more water simply by breathing. Hot drinks such as tea and coffee, as well as soups can help keep you hydrated while warming you up from the inside (just steer clear of added sugars and salt). You can also sip room-temperature water and other beverages.
Maintaining healthy habits – or starting new ones – can be challenging when it’s chilly, but it’s far from impossible. To support your nutrition and hydration needs during the winter months, or any time of year, try incorporating BOOST® Nutritional Drinks into your regular routine. Each serving provides high-quality protein plus up to 27 vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C & D, zinc, iron and selenium, key nutrients for immune support. BOOST® drinks are shelf-stable so you can drink it anywhere, at any time. You can even serve it hot, like in this Masala Chai recipe.