Winter wellness is how to counteract what your body naturally asks you to do. How can we avoid hibernation? When the temperatures outside go down, and gray skies chase each other, the willingness to exercise dwindles and we crave comforting foods. Find out what your body and mind really need to boost health, energy, and mood. We inspire you with healthy recipes, exercise tips, and lifestyle change tools. We hope you feel warmer and more energetic already.
Winter Wellness: Counteract Hibernation
Do you slow down in winter? This is normal, as our body interprets nature the way it did thousands of years ago. Our body is still caught up in the ice age and asks us to look for cover, and reserve strength for the necessary hunt for food.
Hibernation seems like an attractive option. Daily life, however, has to go on. Todays’s world clashes with the primal instinct to survive. We resort to the ‘wonders’ of the modern world: Heating, air conditioners, humidifiers, processed foods, and Starbucks Coffee drinks.
As modern humans, we are programmed to decode our body’s signals quite wrongly. Hence, we interpret that our body craves heavy comfort food, cozy TV evenings, and slower moves. While this can be very nice, it drains our health, energy, and mood. The way to feel, be and do good is to give your body what it really needs.
Winter wellness is knowing how to boost yourself with the right food and moves. The first part of this series Cold Weather Impact on Health, Energy, and Mood tells you how weather makes us act like human barometers. Blood pressure goes up, and the body/mind connection gets impacted by all that Mother Nature throws at us. Keep on reading to give your body and mind real fuel for the winter.
Winter Wellness: The Moves You Need
Exercise, healthy food and mindfulness take us to a better place during the darker months. They counteract that wish to sink into a hole, and do nothing.
Why Exercise in Winter?
- As blood pressures rise in winter, exercise will help you lower it.
- The darker months affect your mood. Exercise is a great way booster as ‘feel-good chemicals’ gets released after only 10 minutes.
- Moving every day will build up your immune system, and protect you from infections.
- Exercising outside will give you additional essential light. The Sunshine adds Vitamin D to your system. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods (see below). It is produced when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D promotes strong bones, calcium absorption and keeps your immune system strong. It also prevents high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.
- Exercise will keep you balanced, and avoid winter bloat. You move and burn calories. An added advantage with exercising in winter is that you burn more, which is nice too.
- Exercise keeps you flexible and promotes joint health. This also helps everyday chores as joints do get extra it by colder temperature.
- Moving warms you up, as it keeps your blood pumping throw your veins.
- Tip for further reading: 6 Reasons It’s Important To Exercise In Winter
Winter Wellness Exercise Tips
- A walk a day — even if it is gray, raining and cold will keep you fit and happy. There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes, right? So – dress right and get out there! It boosts the body, mind, and spirit.
- Make it a ‘real’ walk, and do it for exercise. Make it fun: You can walk at max speed for 5 minutes, and then slow down for 1 minute to then continue until you have walked for 30 minutes.
- Get a DVD and do exercises at home. You feel so much better if you manage to get the blood flowing and the blood pressure gets lower too. Pilates is a flexibility builder, and at least 10 minutes a day will give you a strong core, lean physique, and helpful calorie burn.
- Go for a run, a bike ride or a gym session, but warm up before and cool down afterward. There are ways to think smart when training in winter, and to avoid injuries and unwanted heart issues you need to read up. Tip: When temps are really cold an alternative is to interval walk – fast, slow, fast slow.
- Get into snow sports. Cross country/downhill skiing, Nordic snow walking, and ice skating are great group sports, and a fun way to get winter friends.
- Swimming is a great way to exercise indoors. It gives you stamina, cardio, and flexibility. Take a sauna to warm up afterward, and get the post-workout glow going as you exfoliate, and clear body, mind, and spirit.
Winter Wellness: The Food You Need
The food – mood connection is known as winter survival technique. In winter you need to eat the right foods to boost serotonin, and vitamin D levels. Your body will crave vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates that you interpret to mean: chocolate, flavoured hot drinks, toasted buttery bread, and pasta.
The food – mood connection is a way to feed your body, so your mind also benefits. Your winter body and mind need vitamin D, serotonin, complex carbohydrates, lean protein and iron to get maximum absorption. The right food boosts you on every level and improves health, energy and mood.
The way to start is by curbing the intake of processed foods. Natural foods give you back what you need, and while processed food often add vitamins – there are also other products that do more harm than good.
Winter Boost Foods
Here are the foods that you should look for in winter to boost:
- Vitamin D rich foods: Fish oil (Omega 3); fatty fish ( salmon, tuna, trout, sardines, herring); mushrooms; beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.
- Serotonin: Foods that are high in tryptophan – the amino acid from which serotonin develops – are: Salmon, eggs, turkey, tofu, nuts and seeds, cheese and pineapple.
- Complex Carbohydrates: Whole wheat, legumes, quinoa, and bulgur are great as they increase the serotonin and vitamin absorption.
- Protein: Fish, meat, legumes, and probiotic natural yogurt
- Iron: As you body needs extra iron in winter you should add lots of spinach, kale, watercress and valerian salad. Juicing is a great way to get your iron in, by the way.
- Energy: Beetroot is a winter must-have vegetable as it is full of valuable vitamins and minerals. Beetroot lowers blood pressure, adds stamina for your workouts and fights inflammation. Try juicing beets – which not only gives you the nutritional benefits, but also gives you a welcome boost for your workouts.
- Warming Spices: Adding spices like cinnamon, cardamom and ginger give warmth, circulation, and flavor to soups, stews, and juices. Their health promoting properties are amazing! Read this: Healthy spices nutrition facts and the health benefits of spices.
Winter Wellness: Recipes to Inspire
A perfect way to start your day is with oats or homemade granola. Add nuts and seeds, probiotic natural yogurt and sprinkle with warming cinnamon. Starter fuel for a cold day!
Lunch is easily done with a warming pumpkin and lentil soup, or a beetroot warm salad which goes well together with Nordic crisp bread. For dinner, a trout with spinach and pineapple for dessert will have your winter body happy, fit, lean.
A very nice side effect is that eating the right foods ensures that all your food cravings will be gone.
Tip: If you like these recipes check out the other ones here: The GOODista Recipes
Winter Wellness: Body, Mind and Spirit Fuel
Giving your body, mind, and spirit the right fuel will reap rich rewards. Your winter wellness will shine from every cell, and you will really be able to do all you set out to do.
By cutting out processed foods, drinking plenty of water, exercising and eating the right combination of foods you will go back to the way humans were meant to react during winter. Your body gets natural protection from Mother Nature so it can withstand its impact.
One diet that is known for its health properties is the Nordic diet. Scandinavians are used to the cold, and their basic diet reflects what the body (and mind) truly needs for the darker season. Get into seeds, nuts, grains, berries, salmon, beetroot, and mushroom – and feel your Viking horns grow!
If you like articles like this one, feel free to subscribe below, and don’t hesitate to write to us and ask us for wellness tips, and to get your individual wellness coaching proposal. You can feel, be and do good — every day and working (far) away.
Recommended and Related:
- 4 Ways Winter Affects Your Physical Health – Mark’s Daily Apple
- Cold Weather Impact on Health, Energy and Mood – The GOODista
- Health Benefits of Juicing Beets – healthambition.com
- Running in The Winter – fix.com
- Cold Remedies: 10 Tips How To Get Rid of Your Cold – thegoodista.com
- Cold Weather Diet and Exercise– Healthcentral.com
- Working Out in Cold Weather – fix.com
- Winter Wellness Inspiration – Amazon
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