50 Ways to Get Fit This Winter
It's cold outside, but that doesn't mean you have to let your health and fitness slack.
Here are 50 ways to get fit this winter season:
1) Keep your feet warm.
A recent British study showed that just keeping your feet warm could reduce your risk of catching an infection by up to 67 percent! Apparently, cold feet can cause sinus blood vessels to constrict, making it harder for your immune cells to fend off viruses. So keep your toes bundled up to stay healthy this winter.
2) Pour up the probiotics.
Not only may probiotics help with weight loss, and fighting off cavities, research has shown improved immunity from colds and viruses in subjects who regularly ingested probiotics. Scientists now believe up to 80% of your immune system is located in your digestive tract. You can take a supplement, or find probiotics naturally in foods like yogurt or sauerkraut.
3) Eat an apple a day.
You know it keeps the doctor away, but did you know that women who added an apple a day to their diets lost 12 pounds a year (without changing anything else) than those who didn't? Take advantage of this seasonal fruit and start your apple a day habit now for big weight loss benefits later.
4) Light some autumn colored candles.
Sleep deeper this winter by lighting up some red-hued candles before bed. Research suggests that being around red hues and soft light right before bedtime can increase your melatonin production by up to 70 percent. Plus, lighting candles can improve your relaxation response and relieve holiday stress.
5) Chop some firewood!
Some of the best workouts don't involve any kind of specific "exercise" at all. Chopping wood can burn up to 500 calories an hour! The repetitive motion can also be meditative, which can reduce stress and anxiety.
6) Relieve cold weather induced joint pain with ginger.
Studies show that ginger can help reduce the formation of prostaglandins and leukotrines, which are responsible for inflammation and can cause pain. Try some ginger tea or stir fry with it to get in a daily dose.
7) Use the cold as a reason to exercise first thing in the morning.
Too cold to get out of bed? Hop up and get moving right away! Warming up your body and easing into a morning workout can help you be more alert and improve your circulation for the rest of the day.
8) Fight off winter fatigue by reducing the temperature of your morning shower.
While it may be the last thing you want to do, switching from hot to warm water during your morning shower can help keep you more alert and awake than a hot one. The reason? Hot water raises your body temperature higher, and when it drops it causes drowsiness.
9) Try on a new winter sport.
Always wanted to learn to snowboard? Ice skate? Now's the time! Stay active and learn a new skill by taking advantage of the weather. As a bonus, your body will have to work harder as you learn new moves, which could add up to weight loss.
10) Soup it up!
Soup can be an amazing weight loss tool, and winter weather is the perfect time to add it to your regular menu. Try new recipes, and look to lighten up some of your favorite classics, like this recipe for Cream of Mushroom Soup.
11) Use the cold to freeze your fat!
By exposing yourself to slightly colder temperatures than you are used to, it may be possible to naturally boost your metabolism and burn more calories without any extra effort, says Dr. David Edelson. Don’t get frostbite, but double the cold’s calorie burning power by being active outdoors.
12) Keep your home at a normal (not too hot, not too cold) temperature to avoid the “Hibernation Effect”.
One study found that of 10 people in a cold room and another 10 in a normal temperature room (and with the same food choices) the cold room group ate significantly more calories says Dr. David Edelson, creator of Thinsite.com.
13) Whiff some seasonal peppermint.
When researchers asked 40 people to sniff peppermint every two hours for five days, they ate 1,800 less calories during the week they smelled the scent vs. during the week they smelled a placebo. So keep some peppermint gum or essential oil handy, and take a sniff before holiday parties.
14) Explore the great indoors.
It's cold out, but you don't have to stay home and hibernate. Explore all the great options for fitness indoors. Try a new exercise machine at the gym, pop into a new fitness class or sign up for sessions with a personal trainer.
15) Dose up on D.
Decreased hours of daylight and cold temperatures during the winter months can set you up for a vitamin D deficiency, which can inhibit weight loss and even contribute to depression. Stay fit, healthy and happy by getting your recommended daily D dose of 200 IUs through food sources such as fish, eggs and milk, and getting at least 10 minutes of sun exposure each day.
16) Take advantage of the seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Did you know that pumpkin can help your skin look younger and aid in weight loss? Or that potatoes are considered the #1 weight loss food? Eating seasonally not only helps to improve the taste of your food (seasonal crops are fresher and travel less distances to get to you), it also introduces you to foods that may not typically make your shopping list.
17) Say 'OM' to holiday stress.
Yoga can help with everything from losing weight to lowering blood pressure, and there is no better time to try it than during the cold & flu, holiday hustle & bustle season.
18) Catch up on sleep.
Believe it or not, that urge to stay in bed during the winter may not be all bad. Sleep deprivation can cause irritability, sugar cravings and weight gain. So, go to bed earlier and or rise a little later in the winter - it may help you say no to all those holiday cookies.
19) Walk around the shopping mall to ten, 100-bpm songs on your iPod before starting your shopping.
If you step in time to the beat for the entire playlist, you’ll have reached your daily-recommended guideline for daily activity says Simon Marshall, associate professor in San Diego State University's School of Exercise and Nutritional Sciences. No pedometer required!
20) Keep your calendar full (but not overloaded).
Staying busy not only helps you get out of the house (and away from the fridge), it keeps you moving (and burning) calories. Volunteer at a local shelter, help hosts at holiday parties, and bring in treats for your kids’ classroom.
21) Eat more!
When the winter urge to eat takes over, don’t deny it completely. Instead, “try eating more super foods” says Peter K, MS. “Fill up on foods like berries, wild salmon, brown rice, walnuts, green tea” instead of empty calorie junk food for more vitality and weight control.
22) Socialize your exercise.
“Host weekly sledding parties,” suggests personal trainer Jenny Skoog, and offer “skim hot chocolate as a post-sledding treat”. Making exercise a fun and social activity makes it feel less like, well, exercise! (Plus, sledding burns around 460 calories per 140 lb. woman).
23) Don’t just shovel the snow, step in it!
Snowshoeing is a great low impact, total body form of aerobic exercise, says Charlotte Hurley of REI Sports. Plus, it can have you burning up to 1,000 calories an hour!
24) Travel well.
‘Tis the season for trains, planes and automobile trips, so be sure to travel prepared. Taking simple steps like packing healthy snacks, vitamins and throwing an exercise band or fitness DVD into your suitcase can go a long way towards helping you stay healthy outside of your home.
25) Lighten up your drinks during the winter.
The winter months are full of rich heavy libations like eggnog, hot chocolate and cream liquors. Just because its cold out doesn’t mean you need to start drinking your daily allotment of calories! Swap out major fat and calories by making your own drinks (like this great recipe for light eggnog).
26) Fight off winter colds with short, frequent workouts.
Good news! A recent study found that folks who exercised five days a week, for only 20 minutes at a time, were 40 percent less likely to get sick than those who only exercised one day a week. Keep it short but get moving on most days of the week to stay healthy and fit.
27) Your Best Winter Fitness Friend? Dry Shampoo!
Hate the thought of hitting the gym and having to wash your hair afterwards? Don’t let that excuse keep you from your regular workout routine. Dry shampoo is a gal’s best friend during the cold winter months (we love Oscar Blandi’s Dry Shampoo to Go).
28) Stay extra motivated to keep your heart healthy.
Cold winter temps cause blood vessels to constrict and thickens your blood, putting you at higher risk for a heart attack. Next time you feel your motivation waning, remind yourself that you are at extra risk during this cold season. Protect your ticker by maintaining your regular exercise routine and a healthy diet.
29) Save calories (and money!) at the mall.
It is shopping season, and malls are full of temptation – cinnamon buns, shoes, you name it! Arm yourself against their siren calls by eating a turkey sandwich before you hit the stores. A recent study done by the University of Utah suggests that eating these types of foods can increase your serotonin level, which may in turn make you less likely to buy something on impulse. So snack on some nuts or a have a turkey sandwich before you head to the mall to save on money (and to help resist the calorie-laden food court!).
30) Clean out the fridge.
The holiday season is the perfect time to do a deep cleaning of your fridge. A clean, organized fridge can help with everything from saving time to losing weight. Purge, clean and organize what you have, and when you do restock, keep fresh produce out of bins and on eye level shelves – you’ll be more likely to eat them before they spoil.
31) Prevent winter nosebleeds germs the slip-off with olive oil.
Prevent winter nosebleeds and fight off germs by swabbing the inside of your nose with a little olive oil. The lubrication of your nasal passages with this non-toxic oil helps moisturize and prevent germs from sticking to the inside of your nose. (For other great uses for olive oil, click here).
32) Go high tech with your health this winter.
Winter is the perfect time to try out a new fitness gadget! Calorie and activity trackers such as the Body Bugg can help remind you of how many calories you are burning and consuming.
33) Try making your own herbal tea.
This recipe for Indonesian tea from health and wellness expert Jennifer Galardi works as an expectorant for winter coughs and colds and is also a great cleansing and slimming elixir:
Here is what you'll need (And Jennifer says: I used the powdered version of both of these, but if you can find fresh, go for it!)
2 tbsp. Tamarind (I found the paste at a Whole Foods market)
1 tbsp. Tumeric
1 tbsp. Galangal
Agave nectar (How much you use depends on how sweet you like it. Start out with about 2 tbsp. and you can go from there. Also, you can probably use honey, depending on your taste. The traditional recipe calls for palm sugar. Again, in Bali we used fresh palm sugar straight from the plant. But I'm not in Bali anymore, sadly. I wouldn't recommend using white refined sugar.)
2 tbsp. fresh ground ginger (Like I said, I'm a ginger freak, but you can use less if you'd like)
Blend the Tumeric and Galangal powder with at least 1 1/2 cups water in a blender on low speed. Pour into small saucepan and add Tamarind and Ginger on low heat. Consistently stir and 'smash' Tamarind until most of it dissolves in solution, about 10 minutes. Just before finishing, add Agave or Honey. Pour mixture through a small mesh strainer, 'pushing' all the liquid out with the back of a spoon. You can save what you don't drink in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat or drink cold.
34) Boost your mood and household movement with music.
It’s cold outside and you don’t want to go out. Download a playlist onto your IPod and listen to the music while you’re cleaning house, getting dressed or doing chores. You’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll move your body and how many more calories you’ll burn while doing simple things like making the bed or washing the dishes. “Music makes you move burning more calories and improving your moods by stimulating neurochemicals in the brain”, says Dr. Lynn Anderson.
35) Train like the athletes do.
Periodizing your workout schedule is a great way to get better results and out of your routine. “Treat the winter as a training season - do something different for these 3 months only - then back to something you enjoy more in the better weather” recommends Lisa Hoffman, MA. If you always run, try indoor cycling. If you always hike, try swimming.
36) Double your workout burn outdoors.
“When we shiver, we are expending calories to create heat,” says Dr. Michele Olson. Exercising outdoors makes your body work even harder to stay in a "safe" range of warmth – meaning more calories burned, at the same heart rate, and the same exercise duration and intensity.
37) Use daylight savings to train yourself to get up earlier, and get your workout done.
It’s not too late! You may have already reset the clock, but you can still get in the habit of getting up an hour earlier (and going to bed sooner), says fitness expert Simo Dasha Libi. People who work out in the morning are more consistent, since they have less opportunity for distractions than evening exercisers.
38) Include fitness items on your gift wish list.
Let friends and family know of the new training equipment and/or workout DVD's on your wish list! ”There is nothing like a new gadget to get your workout blood flowing”, says fitness expert Simo Dasha Libi. Ask for a heart rate monitor, a box set of training DVD's, books and gear to get you going.
39) Gargle with tap water!
Research shows that gargling with tap water twice a day to flush out viruses is enough to reduce your risk of infections by 50%!
40) Calm a stuffed stomach with spices.
Overdo it at the holiday buffet table? Sip on some cinnamon and clove tea to calm your tummy. Both of these spices are known for their antiseptic properties, and have been shown to help improve digestion. Research also shows they may help reduce diabetes and heart disease risk.
41) Fight off the winter fatigue with foot massages.
Did you know that our feet contain thousands of nerve endings that, when stimulated, tell our brain to start producing our own natural antidepressants? According to researchers at the University of Miami, getting a foot rub for 2 minutes, twice a day, could improve your energy as much as 60%.
42) Be friends with fiber.
You may be more susceptible to constipation during the winter, as many of us tend to eat more processed food, maintain irregular hours and exercise less in the colder months. Keep things moving, stay full and help reduce your holiday weight gain by getting at least 25-30g of fiber daily.
43) Do a year-end evaluation.
Instead of trying (and failing) again at New Year’s resolutions, why not take an evaluation of your year. List all the things that you are grateful for that happened in 2010. Give yourself a grade for the year, and look for specific things you’d like to improve upon for upcoming year.
44) Try the “ten minutes to quit” self-talk.
We all need a little extra motivation during the winter, so make a few deals with yourself. Tell yourself that you only have to exercise for 10 minutes, and if you want to stop after that you can. Chances are once you are in motion, you’ll keep going, but that little ‘bargain’ can be the push you need to get out the door.
45) Play active video games.
Winter weather is the perfect excuse to start playing with your kid’s Wii Fit. Action oriented video games can be a great workout, and you don’t even have to get out of your PJ’s to do it! Expect to burn anywhere between 250-500 calories an hour, depending on the activity.
46) Do some Pilates..in the snow!
Next time you are bundled up and outside, try this pilates exercise (in the snow) from NYC Pilates Instructor Lindsay Lopez for added resistance and a greater challenge for your abdominals: sit in the snow and make a ball shape with your body. Grab behind you knees, curl your tailbone under you, and roll back and forth on your spine. Pull your abdominals in and up the whole time and try to stay in a tight ball.
47) Replace your light bulbs.
Help fend off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) by replacing your light bulbs with full spectrum bulbs. Full spectrum bulbs help to mimic sunlight and can help you feel more alert and energetic during winter.
48) Use your time inside to clear out clutter.
Winter is the perfect time to get your house in shape! Why not spend cold, dreary days opening up the space in your home by purging closets, rearranging furniture and reorganizing items. You’ll have more space for holiday gifts and be able to donate to those in need.
49) Move the energy in your home to keep yours up.
Feng shui experts recommend keeping moving objects such as a pendulum clock or a crackling fire going indoors to help move the stagnant energy that winter can create.
50) Replace pillows and old bedding.
Did you know that you should replace pillows every 1-3 years? Depending on your bedding materials, replacing what you sleep on can help prevent allergies caused by dust mites and helps improve your sleep quality. Winter is a great time to give your bed a makeover, so you’ll be sure to sleep sound and warm during those long, cold nights.