Written by UVM EXMS Student, Lauren Lamberton
The days are feeling short and we’re breaking into the coats and sweaters. Winter is here! With that in mind, here are my tips for keeping active and staying healthy in order to avoid those winter blues.
The days are only so long…take advantage of the morning sun! Not only does this help you wake up, you will be more energized for the rest of your day. In addition, getting just 30 minutes/day of sunlight can provide us with enough Vitamin D for that day. No need to take supplements! By taking a step outside and consuming foods high in Vitamin D (eggs, milk, orange juice, fish) we can work to prevent this deficiency.
What is Vitamin D Deficiency?
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin as it is used to absorb calcium to keep our bones strong and healthy. This deficiency happens to be very common in the general population, and is even more prevalent among the Northern states, such as Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire. This is due to the long winter months with very minimal sunshine. Many studies have found there to be an association between not getting enough Vitamin D and cardiovascular disease risk, depression, cancer, cognitive impairments, osteoporosis, among many other conditions.
PHONE A FRIEND
Find a workout buddy! Ask a friend, partner, family member, coworker, or peer. Exercise should be something enjoyable, so why not do it with company? You are more likely to stick to the goals you have set for yourself by having someone hold you accountable.
YOGA OR PILATES
The great thing about yoga is that it can be done almost anywhere (including the warmth of your own home!) and can train balance, increase strength, and improve flexibility. There are so many variations: hot yoga, ashtanga, restorative etc. Find the type that suits your lifestyle best and one that you will enjoy doing!
Give these three poses a shot:
TAKE THE STAIRS
Staying active doesn’t have to be a chore. Incorporating things into your daily life that get you moving is an easy way to accomplish some of those goals you have set for yourself. Think about the number of times you have to go up and down the stairs in just one day- in your apartment complex, house, office- wherever it may be, chances are you encounter the stairs at least once per day. Skip the elevator!
LAYER, LAYER, LAYER!
Grab your hats and mittens! Whether you are going for a jog or spending the day on the slopes, it is so important to layer up and STAY WARM. Layers of clothing is perfect when you are exercising in the cold because you can remove the top layer if you become too hot. Keep in mind that you will be sweating, so it is important that the first layer (closest to your skin) does a good job at wicking. This will help keep you dry, therefore maintaining the warmth.
JOIN YOUR LOCAL GYM
Too cold to go outside? Workout indoors! Many gyms offer group fitness classes or personal training, which are two great opportunities for staying healthy and active. For those that find the gym to be an intimidating environment, one of the best ways to get comfortable would be to join a class! Not only are they fun, but they provide you with new ideas on how to get your body moving.
Skiing, snowboarding, winter hiking, ice hockey, snowshoeing, ice skating- you name it! The winter does not have to be spent indoors, and it shouldn’t. There are many ways we can enjoy the snow instead of wishing it to go away. Plus, many of these activities can be done with a group of friends which makes staying active that much more fun!
If you remember one thing from this post let it be this: water is your best friend. I know, I know, everyone claims to drink more and more water…but do you know why? Water is absolutely essential for our bodies. It regulates our body temperature, flushes toxins, removes waste, helps our cardiovascular system..the list goes on and on. Plus, when we exercise we experience water loss, which means we need to consume an additional amount to remain hydrated. So grab your water bottle and fill it up!
Checkout your local community center and see what’s happening. Many places offer recreational activities such as volleyball, badminton, dance classes, and more. Even better, get your friends to join you! You can support your community and stay healthy while doing it.
MAKE IT A HABIT
Consistency is key! They say that it takes 21 days to form a habit, and I will speak from personal experience that motivation will come and go…making physical activity a habit rather than something that happens here and there helps tremendously. If you change your perception of exercise to something that has to be done rather than something that should be done, you will be much more likely to stay consistent. Think of it as simple as brushing your teeth; a task that should be done on a regularly basis (hopefully!)
Wang, T. J., Pencina, M. J., Booth, S. L., Jacques, P. F., Ingelsson, E., Lanier, K., … Vasan, R. S. (2008). Vitamin D deficiency and risk of cardiovascular disease. Circulation, 117(4), 503–511. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.107.706127