As we head into the depths of winter I am hearing lots of grumblings of trying to stay healthy and active in the cold and I don't blame you! Even as a Paralympic alpine skier (now track cyclist) who should be a fan of the cold the first thought that runs through my head when the alarm goes off and it's cold and dark outside isn't how excited I am to train...!
It can be hard in winter to stay motivated and productive and whilst we can't change the weather we can change our mood and outlook towards it and we all know that preventing illness (hello winter cold and flu) is better than curing it so it's important to maintain our healthy habits when we can.
During winter there are a few habits that we tend to forget about which are critical to our winter health care so today I want to share my top tips for thriving through winter.
1. Keep active and exercise!
We know that exercise produces those 'feel good' chemicals in our brain (serotonin and dopamine) and there is LOTS of research that shows keeping active improves wellbeing, your mood, reduces stress and anxiety along with plenty of other benefits so If the cold has scared you away from your usual outdoor activities it's time to think differently (maybe time your walk for lunch time when the sun is most likely out) or try something new (that Pilates class you've always wanted to do). Remember exercise is about having FUN first and foremost with the incredible health benefits a lovely side product so make sure you get out there and move even if it's just a little bit, 30 minutes a day is what's recommended.
With cold weather usually comes comfort food and whilst tasty they don't necessarily provide us with the nutrients that keep our immunity strong. Eating healthy plays a really important role in developing and maintaining a strong immune system to fight off the viruses and bacteria so make sure you help yourself stay cold/ flu free by maintaining a well-balanced eating style. My personal winter favourite is my slow cooker jam packed with veggies and bone broth for an easy and heart-warming winter meal.
3. Get your Vitamin D
Yep it's called the sunshine vitamin for a reason! In winter it can be hard to come by so it's no surprise then that limited sun exposure is the leading cause of Vitamin D deficiency which is why it's important to get outside when you can. Our bodies need Vitamin D to absorb calcium, it helps keep our bones and immune system strong, and with only a limited number of foods that can provide our bodies with it the easiest way to find it is with some exposure to sunlight. Research says, on average 10- 15 minutes a day on multiple body areas (i.e. forearms and shins) will provide you enough. Note- You need bare skin exposure to soak it in! I like to wear a t-shirt with a vest so my arms are exposed to the sun but I keep my chest warm with my vest. The best of both worlds!
These tips are pretty simple and easy for us all to implement so any time you are feeling un-motivated remember this- by creating good habits for ourselves we can ensure that we give our body it's best chance for optimal health. So take the time to prioritise you and your health this winter.
(Winter sunshine in Melbourne!)