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Health and Wellbeing - July 2016

30 Jun 2016

Winter health and fitness tips

As I write this column Victoria is experiencing one of its coldest days on record. There is snow in the Dandenongs and, believe it or not, it’s snowing down at Lorne! (No sign of the white stuff in Docklands yet!)

So, on such a day and during what can be such a bitter and uncomfortable time to be outd oors, how do we stay active and maintain our hard-earned fitness results and avoid hibernation?  Yes, it’s a challenge but not impossible. Here are five tips to help you overcome the winter fitness blues:

  • Make commitments – Everyone finds it more challenging in the colder months to stay motivated and maintain daily exercise routines. We know this, so plan to overcome this from the start. Make a team commitment, a commitment with your colleagues, partner or family that you will motivate each other.
  • Keep it warm – Going out into the cold, to get cold and wet while exercising might not be too enjoyable or healthy (you might catch a cold). So look for warm and inviting environments to exercise instead. Consider these ideas – swimming laps in a heated pool, taking a hot yoga class, visiting the gym and generate your own heat or try using an infra-red sauna for some cosy relaxation.
  • Stay healthy – You won’t be able to stay fit if you get sick. It’s a great time to balance and improve your nutritional intake. Ensure you are eating plenty of veggies and fruit so that you are gaining all the vitamins and minerals you need to fight off any colds and flu bugs.
  • Get strong and stay strong – It’s always important to train with weights and resistance. You don’t realise how fast you lose muscle mass and density through inactivity. Maintaining your muscle mass will ensure your metabolic rate stays optimised and high. Because 70-80 per cent of your daily energy expenditure is due to your body’s metabolic functioning, allowing this to go backwards is not a great way to stay fit and trim.   
  • Have fun – No one can maintain an exercise program that isn’t fun and enjoyable. Make the most of the good days when the sun is out – revert back to outdoor exercise formats like running, boot camps, try cross country skiing or take longer athletic walks in interesting places you haven’t been before. That way you can lift your spirits, boost your energy and vitamin D levels when you get the chance. This will help you stay motivated despite the cold weather.

Healthy winter food options

Along with our challenges to stay active during the cold winter months is the equally difficult reality of selecting healthy and satisfying meals and snacks.  

Let’s face it, salads, fruit, grilling lean meat, fish and vegetables on the barbecue just aren’t appealing options or practical when the weather turns on us. Without a bit of forethought, planning and creativity, poor nutritional selections during winter can reverse the hard earned gains and progress made over the previous months.

Here are five winter food ideas that will deliver both positive nutritional outcomes as well as satisfy your desire for a hearty meal on a cold winter’s day.

  • Super soups – Nothing beats a delicious soup when the going gets cold. Try a fish or chicken-based soup, or as a high protein vegetarian option, look to lentils, barley and vegetables to your tasting. Lentils are high in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals.
  • Baked potatoes rock – Don’t go overboard with the butter and cheese. Look for healthier toppings like beans, low-fat sour cream, chives, herbs, corn and greens.
  • Chilli not chilly – Using lean mince and beans, cook up a heart-warming chilli con carne. Match with brown rice for healthy carbs and fibre.  
  • Eggstra special – Get creative with eggs. Look to omelettes, quiche, pies and frittata combinations with nutritionally rich and tasty ingredients like asparagus, pumpkin, goats cheese, spinach and mushrooms to name a few.
  • Shepherds pie – A winter favourite, but try a healthier option and substitute regular potato with sweet potato.  The sweet potato is a lower carb and higher fibre option.

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