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Quick Tips on Keeping Healthy this Winter

How healthy do you feel, really?

It’s officially winter time and the sniffles have now started their travel season. But there are ways to prepare for winter and keep yourself feeling top notch.

Know Your Body

The most important element of health is to listen to your body. If you are feeling sluggish, it is often because you are not getting enough physical activity to keep your energy levels up. Lethargy (in the absence of illness) is your body telling you to get up off the couch and get active.

It is important to stay active in the winter to increase blood circulation, maintain cardiovascular endurance, maintain muscle mass, and simply to keep yourself feeling your best. When you feel healthy, you look healthy, you are healthy. Simple, but has a lot of truth. Studies have shown regular, moderate exercise boosts the immune response. Exercise increases white blood cell counts and decreases stress- our immune system’s natural enemy. If that isn’t enough to get you off the couch, just remember how empowered you feel after a good workout and do what it takes to get that feeling back!

But it is also important not to go overboard. Keep to a routine that your body can handle. Trying to run a 5k out-of-the-blue and not training up to it can be strenuous, and thus more harmful on your body and immune system than helpful. But do not use this bit of information as an excuse to not exercise or we will be right back where we started, on the couch. Try starting with a 20 minute walk everyday or 10 minute bodyweight circuit and work up from there.

Eat Right

It’s easy to find yourself lost in the comfort foods of the holidays, but bulking up on the carbohydrate dense dinners and sugar-filled desserts will cause you to bulk up as well. There are many ways to indulge healthy comfort foods. One of my favorites during this time of year is baked acorn squash with a little butter and brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon. This can be a filling side, meal, or snack that is low in calories and high in vitamin C, an added benefit to fighting off colds. Other common foods that have a high percent of vitamin C are lemons, oranges, kiwi fruit, broccoli, and apples. So squeeze some lemon in your water, keep apples and oranges on hand for a snack, and broccoli as a superfood side to dinner.

Not only should you keep vitamin C a high priority in your winter-time diet, but other vitamins and minerals are equally as important such as vitamin A, B12, and Zinc. Zinc can help ward off the sniffles and even shorten the symptoms of a cold if you increase your intake of it (often through a supplement) on the onset of cold symptoms. Zinc can be found naturally in high quantities in foods such as lean beef, fish, turkey, chicken, eggs, beans, and legumes. Zinc is not often given due credit but do not mistake that for its importance, make it a priority in your diet this winter.

It is also important to have a high intake of fiber. Fiber is beneficial for your body in a multitude of ways, and a healthy diet full of grains, fruits, and vegetables is the best route to getting it. Studies have shown prebiotic fiber to have immune-enhancing effects. Fiber has been shown to increase anti-inflammatory proteins which in turn strengthen our immune system. There are too many benefits to fiber, and too many consequences if you do not get enough of it, to overlook it as anything less than essential to your diet. You will find high amounts of fiber in any and all beans, dark-green, leafy vegetables, raspberries, blackberries, and oat bran. In all, a healthy, nutritionally-varied diet is essential for a healthy immune system.

Wash up!

We all know to wash our hands frequently, but it is something that must also become routine to keep your health and the health of those around you. Right after you’ve been to the gym is an essential time to wash your hands. Sweat is a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. It is always important to wash up after a workout and pay attention to if you are eating or touching your face after a visit to the gym. Doing so before you’ve washed up is a common way health is compromised.

An added benefit to if you have a home gym is the only sweat you need to worry about is your own! It is important to wipe down after each use for yourself. But with minimal upkeep, the benefits you receive from a home gym will keep coming. So wash your hands often this winter and keep things that you touch often, such as cups and pens, to yourself to avoid spreading germs and you will notice the difference!

Sleep

Get plenty of sleep. Studies have shown that lack of sleep has detrimental effects to the immune system, such as significantly decreased white blood cell counts, which are our bodies response to infection and foreign bodies. Decreased white blood cells are a sign of a weakened immune system. So start today with quitting the excuses for why you do not get sleep and instead try to find solutions on how to get it. Click here to read an earlier blog on sleep and suggestions on how to help you get more of it.

Drink Water

Water, water, water. Drink more water. The importance of this can not be emphasized enough. Especially this time of year, it is easier to become dehydrated. Cold weather often decreases the desire to drink cold water, so you may be drinking much less than you do other times of the year without really realizing it. The common recommendation is to drink eight 8 oz glasses of water every day. But I would suggest anywhere from 7 to 10 glasses depending on the amount of activity you are doing in a day; which, is hopefully at least 20 minutes of moderate exercise each day! Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to 10 glasses either, if your body is telling you to drink more, listed to it. An easy way to do this is to always have water with you. Sitting at work, have a glass right next to you. On the go, have a water bottle in your hand or bag. Water is important for daily functioning and also helps flush toxins from your body, keeping your immune system in balance.

If you find you are someone who is having a difficult time getting enough water in the winter, try tea. It is warm, comforting, full of flavor and abundant in added benefits. Even if you don’t have any problem getting enough water, considering finding a tea that you enjoy and have at least a cup a day. Green tea is an easy choice to start with as it has a mild flavor, not to mention the abundance of antioxidants. It is often a tea leaf that can be found in blends with fruit for those who prefer a fruit flavor. My personal favorite is pomegranate-blueberry green tea. Another way to help you get more water in in a day is to add flavor to your water, naturally. Fruit is a great way to do this. Not only are there added benefits there as well, but the refreshing flavor will help that water disappear before you realize it. Lemons, orange, strawberries, and raspberries are just a few ideas. And if you have not tried it, and are not a tea fan, warm water with some honey and fresh squeezed lemon is a go-to, relaxing with just enough flavor, and benefits!

In all, practice and commit to a healthy lifestyle and you will reap the benefits. Keep away the sniffles and lethargy this winter with exercise, sleep, nutrition, water, and clean hands.

Posted By: Jennifer

Live, Laugh, Love your Body

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