Staying fit and healthy is even harder in the winter months. Your immune system is down due to the weather changes and your energy is zapped from the lack of sunlight. Keeping on track with a healthy diet and active lifestyle are key to feeling good all year round.
Move your exercise indoors
If you are a member of a gym, make the most of it in the winter. It stays open during the dark evenings so you don’t have to limit your exercise time to daylight hours. Most gyms have a selection of fitness classes on offer and/or a swimming pool attached. Use these varied facilities to keep your workouts interesting. If you are feeling the chill, make use of the sauna and steam room facilities to get some heat back in your bones!
If a gym membership is financially unattainable, many offer pay as you go fitness classes. One or two classes a week won’t be too straining on the pocket and it counts as two solid hours of exercise that would have otherwise been spent in bed.
For those you who favour home workouts, Google and YouTube are your best friends! Simply type the exercise you want to perfect or the body part you want to work out and there is a wealth of workout routines and form correctors available for free. On your phone, there is an app for every workout need. From total body workouts, to abs, to squats there are online challenges and workout routines for every goal.
Be aware of your diet
Making healthy food choices in the winter is even more difficult that motivating yourself to exercise. ‘Tis the season for comfort food! The special Christmas menus in cafes are hard to resist. Hot chocolates and festive spiced lattes can all be made slightly healthier by leaving out the marshmallows and choosing soy or skimmed milk.
If you are serious about keeping the calories down, herbal teas are just as warming in your tummy and are also available in a range of flavours. Gingerbread and marzipan however are irreplaceable, and I urge you to make the most of those seasonal treats.
Dark mornings and struggling to get out of bed make breakfast a drag. Leave porridge oats steeping in milk overnight in the fridge. This makes the finished product really creamy. Heat it in the microwave for 2 minutes or less and you have a quick heated and filling breakfast. Add cinnamon for a Christmassy taste or berries and other fruit for the extra hit of vitamins.
Energy and immunity
If you are keeping active and paying attention to your diet but still feeling down, your energy levels may need a little extra kick. Take a multivitamin over the winter months, paying special attention to Vitamin D which is scarce in the northern hemisphere.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition that effects up to 20% of Irish people. It is a form of depression that is triggered by the loss of daylight hours during the winter. Symptoms include interruptions in regular sleep patterns, feelings of lethargy, increase in appetite, and general lack of energy. Basic treatments include lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise and a diet rich in nutrients. If the depression is particularly heavy, Light Therapy is used as a treatment and in some cases medication. If you think you are suffering with SAD, seek medical advice.
Keeping active, making conscious healthy food choices, and keeping your immune system/mental health in check are all ways to combat the winter blues. If you are serious about fitness or just a casual exerciser, remember that summer bodies and habits are made in the winter!