Keep healthy during the winter months
As February begins, the end of winter is on the horizon. But there are still several weeks remaining of colder weather—which means it’s still cold and flu season. So here’s a few things to help you stay active and healthy.
Boost your immune system
Studies show that the average person comes down with a cold roughly three times a year, and nearly 20 percent of the population gets the flu each year. Studies also show that one of the best ways to avoid the cold and flu is by boosting your immune system. Great ways to do this include:
- Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. A wide variety of produce gives your body great nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants and minerals that help fight and prevent various viruses and bacteria. Foods like garlic, broccoli, blueberries, kale, mushrooms, ginger, bell peppers and citrus fruits are some of the best options to boost your immune system—and are available year-round in most grocery stores.
- Washing your hands—properly. We were told as children to always wash our hands, but as adults, most of us are doing it wrong. The recommended way to wash your hands is to fully scrub them with soap and water for 20 seconds—covering the front and back of your hands, your wrists and under your fingernails—then drying them thoroughly. You can also use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Getting quality sleep. Exhaustion can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. Studies show eight hours of sleep every night is just as important to good health as a proper diet. So try to keep a regular sleep schedule and within six hours of your bed time avoid chemicals that can disrupt your sleep, like caffeine and alcohol.
- Staying hydrated. While drinking water on a regular basis helps your immune system function properly, using a humidifier to get moisture in the air can also keep you healthy—especially because cold and flu viruses are most active in drier environments. So keep your room at roughly 40 percent humidity and, if you travel often, consider buying a USB humidifier. These portable devices can be used anywhere, and they boost the moisture in your immediate area by streaming a cool, fine mist as you sleep or work. They also help combat dry skin, dry eyes, nosebleeds and cracked lips.
Get active and have fun
Don’t let the winter weather stop you from enjoying fun activities that keep you fit! There are lots of great ways to stay in shape during the cold months—many of which don’t even feel like workouts!
Consider some of the following options to get your heart rate up and keep your body moving:
- Dancing. Whether it’s at a club or in a class, dancing is one of the best aerobic exercises for burning calories and having fun!
- Cross-country skiing/ice skating. If you’re in a region where it snows regularly, enjoy a day of outdoor adventure! Cross-country skiing and ice skating are both great for building and toning muscles in your arms, legs and core. They’re also great aerobic workouts that help improve your balance. Just be sure to dress appropriately and wear layers.
- Joining an indoor sports league. Most areas have recreational and competitive activities available through your local municipalities. So get together with some friends and enjoy a few games of basketball, floor hockey, volleyball, or other team sports—and have fun working out!
- Swimming/water aerobics. Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the water. Find a local gym or community center with a pool and sign up for water aerobic classes. Pool exercises are the best workouts for your joints, and you’ll burn a lot of calories.
- Training for an event. When summer arrives, there will be a lot of great options for marathons, races, charity events and other wellness activities. So start training now to build up your body and endurance levels. Having an event on the calendar is a great way to stay motivated with your workout routines.
So, if you’re feeling rundown or losing motivation in your workouts, consider these tips to keep yourself healthy and active. And remember—those warm, sunny days are right around the corner.
*This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant as medical advice. If you’re new to exercise, be sure to check with your doctor first and discuss any fitness goals or restrictions they might have for you.