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The dry hot air from the heaters in your homes, offices, and cars can be just as dehydrating as a sweat filled workout. Dehydration makes you more prone to infection, and also makes cold and flu symptoms worse if you are already sick! Try to drink 2-3 liters of fluids per day. Tea and other hot beverages like apple cider or hot water with lemon and honey are perfect ways to get your fluids in while staying warm during the winter.

Don’t forget about your skin! Keeping your skin hydrated in the winter lessens the chance of having dry, damaged, or oily skin; and keeps the skin looking healthy and glowing instead of tired and gray. And if you’re heading outside make sure to use sunscreen to protect against the damaging effects from the sun! We’ve all seen those bad goggle tans from a weekend of sunny skiing!

Stress can also lead to decreased immune system function. (Stress increases cortisol, and decreases prostaglandins which help support immune system function) So take advantage of those inside days and do something to help yourself! Curl up on the couch with a good book or try a few minutes of meditation. A great alternative to meditation is coloring books which are all the rage right now! Coloring keeps your focus and creates a less stressful environment.

And if none of that sounds appealing… invite some friends over, have a games night and a few laughs… Laughter is great way to help lower your stress levels!

Take advantage of winter and less daylight to catch up on your sleep. If you’re getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night you are more likely to get sick after coming in contact with viruses (like your common cold). Remember that it’s ok to go to bed earlier! Try to get on a sleep schedule… go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. And remember that your bed is for sleeping so put the cell phone down and don’t watch TV.

Don’t use the cold as an excuse to stop exercising! Look to the mountains to escape the gray days of winter. Keep moving and get some fresh air by skiing or snowboarding, or if you want to burn a few of those holiday calories off and increase your cardio, try snowshoeing or cross country skiing.
And if you are stuck in the office and can’t get out there is still hope for you! Try sitting on an exercise ball instead of your regular desk chair, it’s a great way to help engage your core and help with better posture… Just remember that you can still slouch when sitting on a ball, so it’s up to you to sit up straight. You can always sneak in a few crunches while on the ball as well.
Being at home doesn’t mean you can’t exercise either, try a quick 10 or 15 minute yoga session right in your living room. Resistance bands are another great tool you can take to the office or have at home. They are small, lightweight and fit anywhere… including your purse or even your pocket! Resistance training burns calories and builds muscle strength. It also helps to improve flexibility and balance which are essential to us all as we age!

During the winter months we often over indulge and crave comfort foods, which unfortunately for most of us means we are consuming a lot more sugars and fats. Winter is a great time of year to start making delicious flavor packed healthy soups. Foods like kale, tomatoes, mushrooms, fish, lentils and beans are packed full of immune system boosting vitamins and minerals… and can all be incorporated easily into soups and stews. Of course not only can we make soups that healthy and good for us, they have lots of liquid in them to help keep us hydrated.

If you smoke… stopping is the number one thing that you can do to improve your health. Smokers are incredibly vulnerable to infections putting your body at risk to greater diseases, including cancers (as well as all the other health risks associated with smoking). You didn’t want to go outside in the cold for that cigarette anyways right?!
Paul Bradshaw – Kinesiologist at Sparkling Hill Resort