Top tips for keeping fit and healthy this winter.
Hopefully not in the full-on Game of Thrones, White Walker kind of way but, like it or not, the cold season is fast approaching.
Autumn is a season of recharging after high paced summer months with our bodies getting ready for winter by storing energy for cold temperatures. We tend to slow down and perhaps become a little lethargic.
So whilst many of us may dig out our woollies with glee, over half of all adults actually say that their mood is lower in the winter season compared to summer. Which can lead to us adopting less healthy habits and making unwise lifestyle choices. Add to this the potential for the compromised immune system that the colder months can bring and we can see how winter might not sound like much fun.
But all is not lost. At Brixton Therapy Centre, we’ve got some useful tips on how to remain in top form, weather the weather, keep winter ailments at bay and, above all, remain positive!
Get a good night’s sleep
Too much shut-eye can be as tiring as too little. Beat the urge to hibernate by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, aiming for a good 7-8 hours. For optimum sleep, make your bedroom a warm (but not hot), comfortable, clutter and technology-free zone!
Exercise, exercise, exercise
There’s nothing like it to improve fitness, lift your mood and energy levels, prevent winter weight gain and bust stress. Aim for the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week – there are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to choose from. Always warm up and cool down, and stay hydrated.
Have a healthy, balanced diet
Eating a wide range of foods to ensure that your body is receiving vital nutrients is key to remaining fit and well during the winter months. Here are some dos and don’ts:
Say it with fruit and veg: Eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Winter veg (carrots, parsnips or swede) plus protein-filled pulses are great in soups and stews. Chinese medicine recommends warming soups with spring onions and white vegetables to aid digestion. Celeriac, for example, is low in calories and rich in anti-oxidants plus B vitamins, Vitamin K and other minerals. Why not try out this recipe for delicious and warming creamy celeriac soup?
Hold the sugar: Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean it’s chocs away on the sugar front. Reduce your intake of the empty calories in sugary fizzy drinks, sweets, cakes, biscuits and alcohol and beware of hidden sugar in processed food, especially breakfast cereals and fruit drinks.
Swap your fats: Cut down on cholesterol-increasing saturated fat in the likes of hard cheese, cakes, sausages, cream and butter in favour of vegetable oils, avocados or oily fish (salmon, sardines or mackerel) which are high in unsaturated fats.
Drink plenty of fluids: 6-8 glasses of fluid is recommended every day, even in winter. Being dehydrated makes you tired and more prone to snacking.
Eat breakfast: Breakfast avoiders are more prone to respiratory infections and heart disease. Research shows, too, that children who eat breakfast are more mentally alert throughout the morning. Beware sugary cereals and opt instead for wholemeal toast or a bowl of warming, fibre-rich porridge topped with a banana to keep you fuller for longer.
Eat to protect your immune system: A wide variety of foods rich in protein, zinc, selenium, copper, iron and vitamins (A, C, E, D and the B vitamins) will help fend off dreaded germs. Brightly coloured fruit and vegetables such as red peppers, carrots, pumpkin and mango are rich in immune-boosting antioxidants while unsalted nuts provide vitamin E, zinc and selenium.
It’s tiring, debilitating and strains the immune system, so try to reduce it. Exercise can help, as can relaxation techniques – meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, mindfulness and, of course, massage. Massage relaxes not just muscles by releasing the tension locked in them, but also de-stresses the mind, improves circulation and boost immunity. Click here to find out more about the types of massage available at the Brixton Therapy Centre.
Banish those winter blues
Winter depression, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), affects 1 in 15 people, possibly caused by the extra melatonin (the sleepy hormone) produced as a result of reduced sunlight. Combat SAD by letting plenty of light into your home, getting outside in the fresh air, exercising and swapping sugar and fat-laden carbs for fruit and vegetables. Light boxes, easily available online, can also help.
Be kind to yourself
Help your body to survive winter by giving it a boost. We talked about massage but acupuncture is also well worth considering. The stimulation caused by the insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific acupoints in the skin can improve the body’s functions and promote self-healing. Research has shown positive effects on the body including its nervous or cardiovascular systems, helping to resolve pain and improve sleep, digestive function and promote better well-being. We have a number of fabulous acupuncturists at the Brixton Therapy Centre and you can find out more about them, and all our therapists, here.
If you’d like to book an appointment or simply need more information then we’d love to hear from you. Call to speak to one of our friendly receptionists on 02077339944 or book online here.