Winter will soon be upon us, and staying fit can be a challenge for those living in areas that experience freezing temperatures, snow, and ice. Many go into hibernation mode – spending hours curled up under a blanket with a giant bowl of popcorn binge-watching the latest Netflix or Hulu TV show.
Plus, 10-20% of people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - a depression that follows the season – and it’s no surprise that winter depression, which typically starts in late fall/early winter, is the most common type of SAD.
Here are five tips to keep fit even during the dark days of winter:
- Stay hydrated
- Get some sun when possible
- Set a health goal for spring
- Pay attention to what you eat – especially around the holidays
- Stay active - join a gym or exercise class or find an outdoor winter activity that you enjoy
Here are six tips to help keep you safe outside during frigid weather:
- Before starting any exercise regimen, check with your doctor. Exercising in cold weather is safe for most people, but you may need to take additional precautions if you have certain conditions such as asthma or heart problems.
- Check weather conditions – not just the temperature and precipitation, but also wind – before going outside and dress accordingly. “Wind Chill is a term used to describe what the air temperature feelslike to the human skin due to the combination of cold temperatures and winds blowing on exposed skin,” according to the National Weather Service. Wind chills around negative 25 degrees mean that frostbite is possible within 15 minutes, and temperatures between 30 and 50 degrees can cause hypothermia – especially if you or your clothing is wet. If the weather is particularly severe, consider an indoor activity.
- Dress in layers. To keep warm in cold weather, you need three layers– a base layer (underwear that wicks sweat off your skin), a middle layer (an insulating layer that retains body heat), and an outer layer (shell layer that shields you from wind and rain).
- Protect your head, feet, hands, and ears. Toes, fingers, ears, nose, etc., don’t have major muscles to produce heat, making them particularly vulnerable to cold temperatures. Plus, blood flow to the body’s extremities is reduced in cold temperatures as the body sends more heat to internal organs. Therefore, it’s crucial that you protect your extremities with gloves, hats, headbands, thermal socks, etc.
- Wear safety gear when appropriate. When it’s dark, make sure you can be seen with reflective clothing, bicycle headlights and taillights, etc. If it’s slippery, wear shoes with good traction. If you’re skiing, snowboarding, or snowmobiling, wear a helmet. And if you’re in the sun, wear sunscreen, dark glasses or goggles, etc.
- Know who is at most risk of hypothermia and frostbite, the signs and symptoms, and what to do if it happens. Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to frigid temperatures that leads to lower body temperatures, which can affect the brain. Frostbite is a type of injury caused by freezing. It can cause permanent damage to the body, and in severe cases, may lead to amputation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers information to prevent hypothermia and frostbite.
Staying active is only part of keeping fit during the cold winter months. You also need to watch what you eat – especially during the holidays.
Watching What You Eat
My Neat Health products - formulated by health experts and medical professionals and made in the U.S. to ensure the highest standards of quality – can help keep you fit during the long, dark days of winter. Our meal replacement bars, healthy entrees, etc., do not contain excess calories, fat, or sugar. Just fuel to help keep you fit – even during the winter months.