Embrace the Cold
Bring on the cozy sweaters, the crisp, clean air and the delicious, nutritious warm soups. Combat the winter blues with tips that will bring warm thoughts and healthier living to everyone.
Sleep Better by Degree
Studies show that most people sleep better when it’s a littler cooler at night, around 65˚F. So save a little money and get a better night’s sleep by dialing down your thermostat.
Make Meals Soup-er
Warm yourself and soothe your soul by dishing out some soup. Making soup can be as easy as throwing a variety of ingredients, including holiday leftovers, into a crockpot in the morning and enjoying a nutritious meal that night. Make extra to refrigerate or freeze for later. Soup can be a healthy meal in a bowl, by including vegetables, beans and/or lean meats, and minimizing salt and extra fat. Also, because many soups include so much water, you can fill up with fewer calories.
Enjoy the Fresh Air
Pollen counts and pollution are naturally lower in colder weather, making it a bit easier to breathe and enjoy being outside. Also, exercising outdoors can reduce the likelihood of “seasonal affective disorder”, a.k.a the winter doldrums.
The combination of sunshine and exercise can be just what you need to keep away the blues and the stave off holiday weight. If you have kids, join them outside. Try jumping in the leaves or making a snowman as a family. Reward yourselves with a warm bath, bowl of soup, or cup of cocoa when you come back in.
Dress for Success
When you venture out, stay warm and comfortable by dressing in layers. Dressing too warmly can cause you to perspire, leaving you chilled and at risk for hypothermia. Having a base, middle and outer layer when you exercise outside is even more important to keep from overheating.
Want to stay upright in icy conditions? Choose the right shoes. This is especially important for seniors, who are at greater risk of falling. To minimize falling risks, consider wearing special snowshoes or attachable shoe grippers, and carry a drinking bottle full of sand or ice-melt with you or in your car to spread before stepping. Also, try waddling like a penguin when you walk on ice. This will keep your center of gravity over your front leg and keep you more upright.
Make Being Inside Fun
There are times when the weather is just too cold or hazardous to walk or exercise outside. If you can’t make it to a gym, trying doing a few walking laps in an indoor mall. You’ll get great exercise and enjoy some window shopping. If you’re stuck inside at home, make the time active. Get up and dance, or play a video game that gets you up and moving, and don’t forget to include family or friends when possible. For kids, as well as their families, there are a number of websites such as GoNoodle.com that find fun ways to get kids’ minds and bodies more active.
Limit Screen Time
Too much sedentary time in front of a screen - TV, computer, phone, etc. negatively impacts health whether you're 6 or 86 years old. A recent study from George Washington University showed that many older adults spend 60-70% of their waking hours either reclining or seated. The study further found that watching over 5 hours of TV daily and getting less than 3 hours of exercise weekly, substantially increased the risk of disability. Another study from the University of Southern California found that many older characters in films or television are often underrepresented or stereotyped, having a potentially negative impact on self-esteem and mental health.
Bored? Try Boards
Playing board games can improve cognitive skills and exercise the mind at any age, encourage laughter, help reduce stress, and provide a great way to bond and have fun with those around you.
Get Checked Out
With the New Year approaching, one good way to stay healthy is to make an appointment for your annual physical and dental checkups. El Centro de las Americas is doing their part for the health of our city by sponsoring free health and dental screenings in partnership with UNL College of Dentistry, Family Health Services, Walgreens, and People’s Health Center on Dec. 18 during their Operation Santa at El Centro, 210 O St., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Change is Good
According to an article in Psychology Today, if you live where weather never changes, you are more likely to take warm, sunny days for granted. So, until spring returns, bundle up, take a walk or run, enjoy some warm soup, pull out a board game and enjoy some quality time with family and/or friends. It’s the gift of cold weather, so enjoy it while you can.
For more cold weather wellness tips: Check out the “Winter Health & Wellness” playlist on LNKTV Health’s YouTube Channel (@LNKTVhealth) and visit LNKTVhealth.lincoln.ne.gov to find where to view their cable TV programming from your provider and see a comprehensive health, wellness and fitness event calendar.