Health and Safety: Weather is no excuse to stay inside

When the temperature drops, most of us are found bundled up under a thick blanket, drinking hot cocoa and trying to find any excuse not to go outside. Unfortunately, the winter cold does not serve as an excuse to dismiss exercise or consume an entire tray of momma’s sugar cookies, either. If you can’t afford a gym membership when you’re home for the holidays, there are still plenty of other ways to get your daily exercise.

Go outside and get moving. The key to outdoor exercise in frigid temperatures is layers. Many experts advise to dress as if it’s 30 degrees warmer than it really is. At the same time, you don’t want to go out for a run in mid-January wearing a T-shirt. Layers are perfect. Wear a thin sweatshirt and tie it around your waist after you warm up.

Note the wind chill. If you’re participating in a fast-motion sport like skiing, running or skating, the added impact can make the bitter air that much colder. Dress appropriately and stay indoors if the temperature drops below zero.

Protect your phalanges. During cold weather your blood rushes to your core, leaving your extremities vulnerable to frostbite. Try a thin pair of gloves while running, or a thicker pair of socks to protect your precious fingers and toes.

Mix up old routines. Boredom is one of the biggest motivation killers. With the Pocono Mountains less than two hours away, why not spend a day on the slopes? Just two hours of moderate snowboarding burns over 700 calories.  Not to mention, it’s a thrill.

Remember sunscreen. It might be cold out, but the sun is still a danger. Snowy weather and high altitudes put you at risk of sunburn. Use at least SPF 15, along with a lip balm with sunscreen protection. Wear a pair of dark sunglasses or goggles to shield your eyes.

Fruits and vegetables are more expensive and less appealing during the winter months. It’s awfully tempting to opt out of healthy eating and indulge, but minor alterations to an impulsive diet can make a big difference.

During the colder months, your body is craving serotonin, a feel-good chemical stored in your brain, and you seek to fulfill it through comfort foods. Watch the carbohydrates you choose. Select high-quality carbs like whole-grains, sweet potatoes and squash rather than simple carbs like cakes and biscuits.

Although winter produce may not even come close to tasty summer berries or melons, there are still options. Pomegranates, citrus fruits and beets, just to name a few, are readily available. Add some color to your plate.

Winter break doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your healthy habits. If you’re already a health nut, continue in your wholesome groove. If you’re trying to make a fresh start, use winter break to establish healthy routines. Make a New Year’s resolution to start making good decisions for your health. Your mind, body and soul will all thank you.

-Amanda Sandlin

Junior journalism major

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