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How to not let your health take a back seat in winter

Jaime Collinsby Jaime Collins, Director of Marketing and Communications at Southwest Health | 

I don’t care what groundhogs saw or did not see last week. Spring will come when it’s good and ready. In the meantime, life is too short and far too precious to hibernate. Waiting out winter is no strategy for staying healthy.

Instead, to be ready to slide into spring feeling good, here are a few things you can try:

  1. Most of us spend a lot of time sitting. In winter we sit even more! We still need to be getting up on our feet and moving our bodies, despite what the calendar says. Some of us lean on technology by downloading apps for our phones or counting steps with a wrist device. If that’s not for you, there are still lots of options, from gyms to your yoga mat at home. Today, I look outside and see the sun shining, and I know if I’m careful where I walk or run, I can, indeed, get outside safely and enjoy the winter sun and fresh air. Personally, unless it’s below zero, I live by the axiom, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing choices.”
  2. Reading is a different kind of work out – one for the mind and soul. Winter affords us a little extra time we can use to crack a book and discover something new. Whatever you might normally pick up to read, head out to a bookstore, local library or even find something online that’s different, eye-opening, or inspiring. A stack of great reads is yours just for looking, and it’s likely you’ll find some nuggets of wisdom, encouragement, or insight that will alter how you see and move forward in the world. What could be a better use of time!?
  3. Go online… not to watch the last season of a Netflix series you’re into but for a good talk or demonstration video of your favorite activity. Or maybe it’s an entirely new activity. Ever thought about yoga, for example? There are tons of great videos to get you started, and all you need is you and some space. In doing even a little yoga, you’ll get more flexible, use your muscles, burn a few calories, and gain mental clarity.
  4. Temptations for your tummy abound during winter. That means you could be consuming unhealthy calories. Or, you could choose to get inspired and try your hand at a new healthy recipe instead! Imagine if you expanded your repertoire one healthy dish per week in the next couple winter months! You’d be cooking new and tasty and nourishing meals all spring and summer, too!
  5. If you’re sensing a theme with the above items, it may be that winter affords extra time. With the luxury of a little time you can choose to do what will not be good for your body and mind, or you can choose something better for yourself. Maybe the best use of that time is to develop some new and healthy habits. Meditation could be a habit, for example, and one you could spend time cultivating now to benefit you the rest of your life. Or, maybe it’s finding time to work out every day. Maybe it’s switching from sugary beverages to drinking more water, unsweetened tea, or some other no-sugar alternative. Whatever your goals you have in mind for your personal well-being, winter may be the perfect time to create a healthy new habit.
  6. In the quest to get through winter… or even the quest to be healthy in general… let’s not neglect plain old fun. Why should kids be the only ones playing outside in the snow? Or hanging out with friends? Try something like snowshoeing. Or pickle ball indoors. Or join a book club to meet some new friends and discover some new ideas. Make some moments you’ll cherish long after winter is but a memory.

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