Student Submission: Diet and exercise changes for a healthier winter

Laura Behler (Dietetics)-

While Wisconsin winters bring lots of joy, they also come with their own dose of negative side effects. People can become confined to their homes due to subzero temperatures and icy roads, which can result in sluggishness, higher levels of depression and weight gain. But with a little creativity, there are plenty of ways to stay active and practice healthy eating habits to keep your mind and body happy.

One tough aspect of the upcoming season is that being outdoors and being active do not coincide as much as during other seasons due to brutal weather conditions. However, there are plenty of ways to exercise indoors. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, some easy ways to exercise indoors are as simple as cleaning your room or just walking to and from class. Live in a building with an elevator? Try taking the stairs whenever possible for an extra bit of physical activity.

And if you already do most of those things, there are always exercise DVDs or videos that you can find online or at a local library to follow along with. On days that are not especially cold, there are several fun ways to push yourself outdoors. Ice skating, sledding, skiing and snowboarding are all classic activities that can help keep you in shape.

 

healthy-heart

Staying active throughout winter has many benefits, like keeping your heart healthy, burning more calories and reducing stress/anxiety. Including physical activity in your daily winter routine will keep you energized and happy. It is very easy to overeat during the winter months due to boredom, but it is still important to keep our eating habits healthy and balanced, especially during the holidays. Some tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics are to eat high fiber foods (like fruits and vegetables) to keep you full throughout the day and prevent overeating.

At mealtime, fill your plate with salad and other vegetables before getting your entrées to help you eat fewer calories overall. Using a small plate during a meal and filling it completely is helpful because you are still eating less than if you partially filled a bigger plate. And most important of all, only eat when hungry. Distract yourself with an activity if you are bored and want to eat. Overeating makes us gain weight faster and feel more sluggish. Eating healthy foods at balanced times will provide your body and mind the energy it needs.

The cold and colorless winter can make you feel tired and down on yourself, but staying active and eating balanced meals will help keep your body and your mind healthy. There doesn’t have to be a pause in healthy habits just because the seasons change. If we learn how to adjust daily rituals for winter, we can help improve mental and physical health all year long.