While it’s true you can’t catch a cold from being cold, people are more likely to pick up a cold or flu bug during the winter months.
Why? First, we are all sharing more. Not on purpose, but when it’s cold, we tend to stay indoors with the heat on. We are closer together and the dry air allows germs to live longer. In addition, the US National Academy of Sciences found the main common cold virus replicates faster in cold weather. It’s not your imagination. It is easier to get sick when it’s cold out.
And, if you are lucky enough to miss the cold or flu bug, you may pick up a few extra pounds, also common in the winter. All those holiday treats are hard to resist and when it’s dark by 4:00 p.m., getting exercise can be difficult.
Making good decisions about how we spend our time and what we put in our bodies can be even more important in wintertime. Family, friends and colleagues may share germs, but can also be part of staying healthy too, providing encouragement and accountability with group workouts and healthy challenges to not gain that winter weight.
Looking for a local workout or healthy eating group, check out websites such as Meetup.com with many opportunities listed in the greater Thurston County area. Most are free, but some have small fees. Groups hit local workout spots such as Marathon Park or the Tumwater/2nd Avenue stairs.
If you don’t find what you are looking for, start your own Meetup or Facebook group and invite friends and family to join, keeping track of progress and encouraging each other. At work, contact your Wellness Director and see if there are organized walking groups or healthy challenges in the workplace.
If you don’t know how or where to get started on your healthy journey, a health coach or personal trainer is another option. Many local businesses offer specials for those with healthy New Year’s resolutions. However, there are several things to research before making this investment.
“You should look for someone who will help you stay motivated and you feel comfortable communicating with,” advises trainer Jared, who works at Wimberly Training in Tumwater. He explains how expectations are a two-way street, and both client and trainer need to be on the same page.
“Staying healthy is more than working out, so the trainer has to share what they can but also what they can’t do for you and advise you on where to go for those other things,” he says.
“A workout in the morning wakes you up and you are energized for the day, but if you aren’t a morning person working out in the afternoon relieves stress and is a good way to stay warm.”
Staying healthy is important at any age. Jared shares, “As you get older you want to stick to body weight exercises and a ton of stretching. Lots of hips, back and shoulders. And walking. As you get older your muscles start to tense up when it is cold outside.”
Looking to stay healthy (or get healthier) this winter? Use these 8 tips to find success.
Top 8 Ways to Stay Healthy Over the Winter
Eat three meals a day. When you wake up, eat a healthy breakfast. Include protein, whole grains and fruits to keep you energized through the day. Lunch raises your blood sugar which helps you focus throughout the rest of the afternoon. Studies have shown that people who don’t eat lunch tend to gain weight rather than lose it. Dinner not only nourishes your body, but provides an opportunity for the family to sit down a talk about their day. Healthy foods partner with healthy conversations.
- Drink water. During the winter, you still need about 8.5 cups of water a day. To stay hydrated you can also have soup and drink decaffeinated tea.
- Sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Most people don’t get enough sleep. Stick to a schedule for bedtime and waketime and avoid blue-light screens at night to promote a healthy sleep.
- Walk, run or hike. Walking is something we do every day. You burn calories, can lose weight over time and relieve stress. Running can increase cardiovascular endurance and build muscle and immunities. Hiking combines the benefits of both walking and running with enjoyment of the outdoors.
- Practice Yoga or Pilates. Yoga and pilates are a great stress reliever, helps you stay fit. They both work your core muscles, help flexibility, improve posture and enhance your mental awareness.
Try a winter sport. Experience skiing, snowboarding or even sledding for active, winter fun. Try a group skiing lesson with friends or enjoy sledding with your family. Walking up the sledding slope is good exercise and the ride down is a great and worthwhile reward.
- Wash your hands. Washing your hands is one of the most important ways to prevent illness and spreading germs to other people. Germs are often spread because people don’t take the time to wash their hands with soap and clean, running water after sneezing or even touching their face.
- Be proactive in illness prevention. You are less likely to develop an illness if you’re active, eat a healthy diet, stay hydrated and get enough sleep. While sometimes getting sick is inevitable, being proactive and living a healthy lifestyle goes far to keeping you healthy all winter long.