5 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Winter Months

Winter is right around the corner and with it comes cold weather that can lead to winter blues and put us into hibernation mode. However, just as the seasons change, we can adapt our routines to stay healthy and energized through the winter with a few simple tips. Read below for 5 tips to staying healthy and energized through the winter cold months!

  1. Hydrate – During the summer we may feel more inclined to drink more fluids due to the heat, causing us to sweat and producing a feeling of being thirsty. However, it is just as important to keep this up through the entire year. During the winter we may not sweat as much during the day, but we are still losing moisture and it is just as important to stay hydrated. Drinking more fluids throughout the day can prevent dehydration and increase energy levels.
    • Keep a water bottle with you throughout the day.
    • Keep it hot! Have some tea or warm lemon water to fight the cold.
    • Add fruit to your water to switch up flavors.
  2. Eat the Rainbow – As the cold begins to move in, so does the dreaded flu season.  It is important to keep a variety of fruits and vegetables in the diet as the winter months move in to help ward off unwanted bacteria. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants which help support our immune system for defense against unwanted invaders.
    • Combine fruits with your morning oatmeal.
    • Buy frozen! If you don’t have time for the chopping and cutting, grab a bag of frozen fruits or vegetables.
    • Eat with the season! Winter is a great time for root vegetables which can be enjoyed roasted and as a side to our favorite protein sources.
  3. Warmth and Fiber – Oatmeal, rice porridge, cream of wheat, grits, are all great additions to your daily winter meals. Oatmeal contains fiber and has proven benefits for the cardiovascular system and blood sugar levels. Choosing a grain that is warm can lead to both satiety and satisfaction during those cold morning months.
    • Bake it! Oatmeal and grits can be baked to make savory or sweet meal options. Add in some fruit or herbs to enhance flavor and taste.
    • Overnight oats are a great option for those who like to plan ahead and grab and go.
    • Add a nut butter to your morning oats to increase protein intake.
  4. Get Physical – Cold mornings may not lend themselves to the typical early morning exercise routine. However, staying active during the winter can boost immune defenses and lower stress levels.
    • Walking indoors! Walking inside is just as beneficial as walking outside. Walk through your local mall or gym for daily activity.
    • Take the stairs! Choosing the stairs over the elevator or escalator can increase your activity levels and get your heart pumping.
    • Remember activities like raking leaves and shoveling snow are a form of movement!
  5. Vitamin D – Vitamin D is very important for bone health. During the summer months we are more inclined to spend time outside increasing our exposure to sunlight and potentially increasing our Vitamin D levels. However, during the winter, more time is spent indoors. It is important to make sure we are getting enough Vitamin D through the winter months to continue to support our bone health.
    • Be aware of the foods that are either naturally high or fortified with Vitamin D: Salmon, milk, tuna, mushrooms, soy, yogurt, orange juice, and eggs.
    • Get outside! Although this may be difficult during the cold winter months, find ways to be outside to increase sun exposure. Maybe its walking for 20 minutes, playing a sport with your kids, or raking the leaves.
Emily Solis is a Dietetic Intern with the Virginia Tech – Northern Virginia site. She enjoys running, gardening, and baking pies on Sundays.