Despite global warming, Chicago, where I live, has been suffering from some serious winter weather. I can pretty much ride my bike year ’round here, but I draw the line at single digits. I haven’t been able to find a mask that protects my face from frostbite and at the same time, doesn’t leak my breath up into my glasses – fogging them. Living in a high rise building, I can usually take to the stairs and still get in a workout, with the benefit of weight-bearing exercise, to boot. There is also a health club downstairs, but I really don’t enjoy them.
For those of you who may have similar wintertime woes, Harvard has some suggestions for keeping yourself healthy.
1. Make some soup
Instead of a snow day baking sweet treats, try making a big batch of soup. You can experiment with different ingredients all winter long, providing you with a healthy distraction from the cold and an endless source of nutritious, warm meals.
Want to increase the fun factor? Try a “Soup Swap” with friends, where everyone makes a different type and divides it into batches for easy sharing.
Chances are you’re already spending a lot of time sitting indoors in the winter months, so why not take advantage of your downtime to try meditating? Research shows it can have positive effects on the mind and body, all without having to leave your home or buy special equipment.
3. Stream and sweat
When it’s so cold outside that you don’t want to leave the house to work out, consider turning to digital streaming services instead. Not to binge-watch videos or TV shows, but to exercise! Scroll through the variety of workout offerings and choose an exercise or two – or a full workout. Remember to check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.
Stuck at home with no easy access to your gym? Skip the pushup barbells and use your own body weight to become stronger. Common exercises include squats, lunges, push-ups, and crunches. Again, be sure to check with your doctor before making any changes to your exercise program.
5. Get your steps in on the stairs
Step counts often dwindle in winter, when walking outdoors is at a minimum. Take advantage of indoor time by walking up and down your building’s stairs, if your building has them. Just be sure to watch for ice and slippery spots.
6. Try tea
Being stuck inside can encourage snacking, and chilly weathertea can lead to comfort food cravings. Before reaching for a plate, though, pour yourself a mug of warm tea. You’ll find it often lasts longer than a quick snack, and it can be surprisingly satiating.
7. Stand up for your health
“Sit time” peaks during winter, when we want to stay at home and avoid the outdoors. It’s easy to while away the time watching movies, reading, or browsing online, but remember to set a timer on your phone that reminds you to walk around every hour – even just a few trips back and forth to the other side of your home. I have a Page on the dangers of prolonged sitting.
8. Read an inspiring book
Another great way to prioritize health – even when low bookstemperatures have you feeling sluggish – is to turn to a book for a major dose of motivation. Find a health or nutrition book online, at a bookstore, or your local library, and use it as a source of inspiration to get you through winter. You could even start a “healthy book club” with friends and instead of reading the same book, assign different titles so everyone can share notes and maximize motivation!