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Be Winter Wonderful
With colder temperatures underway, this season can pile more things on your to-do list. We are changing winter tires, shovelling snow and salting our roads, bringing out thicker coats and hats, and buying cold and flu remedies! With these best health tips, you can conquer winter and make the season a memorable one!
Pile on layers and get movin’!
Yes, we have all been there. It’s cold outside and you’re bundled up like a warm taco inside your covers and don’t want to leave! But it doesn’t mean you should be stuck indoors when the snow starts to fall. Getting as much as 30-45 minutes of moderate physical activity per day can do you wonders! Exercise can reduce your risk for chronic disease development, improve your immune function, make you feel great (more endorphins) and more energized! If you are an outdoors kind of person, learning how to dress is the key game-changer that will impact how you feel during your workout. On top of proper snacking and hydration, layering is just as important in helping you stay warm, dry and comfortable. There are three main layers to consider if you are heading outdoors:
1) Base Layer
Look for sweat or moisture-wicking clothing. This allows for your skin to dry faster, making it more breathable during your workout. Another great feature to look out for is that the clothing is lightweight and fits well, allowing range of movements to be more free and dynamic. Choose these ones for underwear, tights and long-sleeve shirts. If you get cold easily, opt for insulated base layers to give added warmth. Similarly, the fabric of some socks and gloves these days also come with heat-retention technology that will keep your extremities warm during colder days.
2) Insulating Layer
This layer actually does most of the work when it comes to keeping your body warm. Loose fitting long-sleeves, pants, and sweatshirts work well. Again, try to choose lightweight and sweat-wicking fabrics. This way, moisture moves out, while heat is retained close to your body. If you find you are still cold, opt for insulated layers that are also wind-proof.
3) Outer Layer
This final layer protects you from the elements of Mother Nature when working out. Similar to the base layer, the outer layer should be breathable to moderate the heat generated from your workout without letting the wind in.
Consider investing in a good pair of running shoes with better traction support. Another option is to buy an overshoe with spikes or extra grip that slips over your current running shoes. These devices will give you extra traction over ice and snow during the winter months and will help prevent slips and falls. Now that you have the proper clothing and gear, don’t let winter hold you back!
Feel like you need more boost this season? Healthy snacks can be great pick-me-ups! Load up on lean protein, fiber and vitamin-rich snacks to give your body and mind a nutrition boost! Pack travel-friendly munchies like trail mix, granola, drinkable yogurt, bananas, apples, carrots, nuts and seeds. These easy-to-prepare snacks will keep you feeling satisfied without the added guilt.
Reduce stress with food
During times of stress, vitamin C, vitamin B, magnesium and tyrosine are generally at lower levels. If your dietitian or physician recommends this, you can top up with a multivitamin, elemental supplement or choose foods rich in these nutrients! Camomile and lavender tea have also been found to have calming and soothing effects that can help counteract stress and anxiety during the winter months.
With darker and shorter days during this season, some people feel less productive, gloomier and generally sad. This is actually called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). About 2-6% of Canadians will experience SAD and another 15% will experience a milder form of SAD in their lifetime (Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, 2015). Light therapy (exposure to different types of therapeutic light) has been found to produce anti-depressant effects in 70% of people with SAD, with most seeing significant changes within two weeks of starting light therapy.
Fighting the cold and the flu can be challenging during the winter so it is important to always have medications on hand. Supplementing with natural remedies like vitamin C (or eating vitamin C-rich foods like bell peppers, citrus fruits) can also help boost your immunity. Research has found that herbal ginseng and lemon tea can be helpful in controlling for cold and flu symptoms. If you haven’t it is probably best to also get your flu shot!
During the winter, we also tend to ignore allergies (the ones we get indoors). Because we tend to shut our windows tight, the circulation of outside air might not always happen and dust and dander may get trapped inside. If you have allergies to dust, having allergy medication might be a good idea during the winter time. Also, it is best to change your air filters once every month or every three months depending on the type of filter. Manufacturers usually make a recommendation on their packaging or on their website.
Music to the mood
Studies have found that listening to happy and upbeat music with the intent of being happier can actually make you more happy. Having a positive mindset to be happy, while listening to these songs could actually work! Having said that, don’t be afraid to sing and dance while you’re at it!
Being creative can actually help lift your spirits. Try doing arts and crafts, writing journals, stories or poems, dancing, singing, or playing an instrument!
Rosanna Lee, PHEc., MHSc., BASc. is a nutrition and health expert, a professional home economist and an avid foodie with diverse experiences in healthcare, community nutrition, industry, education, public health and research. Call: (647) 889-8854.
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