We all hate to admit it but the shortened days and chilly nights of winter are enough to keep us from being as physically active as we’d like to be. Marching face first into biting winds as frost builds on our brows or high-kneeing it through heavy snow that slowly fills our boots (and soaks our socks) in order to get to the studio just doesn’t sound fun sometimes. Not to worry! During our recent trip back east, on a day that especially low temperatures and icy conditions kept us from even considering taking to the streets, we put together this little list that will surely help you stay heart-happy and healthy when you find yourself stuck at home this season:
1. Get Back On Your Mat: Frigid conditions may prevent you from getting to the studio but nothing can stop you from creating your own little sanctuary at home. Granted, you might not have the calm, familiar voice of your favorite instructor to guide you but with so many online yoga classes and apps available (many free of charge) you’re sure to find a flow that will suit your style in no time. Also, practicing alone allows you the opportunity to move at your own pace and work on poses that you may not be comfortable attempting in a crowded class. Aaaaand another huge perk, at home...YOU’RE in charge of the playlist!
2. Eat C Food: Eating healthy foods is one of the best things you can do to keep your immune system strong. Start by filling half your plate at each meal with fruits and vegetables (yes, even at breakfast). Most fruits and veggies are high in vitamin C, which can help strengthen your resistance during the cold weather months. Try munching much on citrus fruits, pineapple, broccoli, cabbage, and kale. Just keep in mind: cooking destroys vitamin C, so lightly steam your veggies or eat them raw, And don’t forget to season your dishes generously with garlic. The allicin in those pungent cloves is a powerful immune booster.
3. Dance: So you already made at least one playlist so why not make another, and another, and another because as the temperature drops outside the beats will be dropping inside during your ultra-exclusive dance party for one. The only requirement for admission is that you keep it moving. Constantly. It’s a great cardio workout and if you’re like some people I know that love to shout-sing (in the most amazingly fun way of course) along to every song, it also relieves a ton of stress. All that body movin’ also has a protective effect as exercise increases the speed at which white blood cells circulate through your system, which enables them to detect trouble early and react quickly.
4. Drink Hot Tea: If you’re a coffee drinker, you might want to switch to tea this winter (I know, so much easier said than done. This magic bean definitely has me under its spell too.). A study comparing the immune response of tea and coffee drinkers found that the tea drinkers’ immune cells responded to a threat five times faster than those of the coffee drinkers. Researchers attribute this effect to the L-theanine in tea. Note: Only true tea, from the Camellia sinensis plant — i.e. black, green, and white tea — contains L-theanine; herbal tea does not.
5. Manage Your Stress: Everyday stress can run you down and leave you vulnerable. That’s because stress hormones like cortisol reduce the numbers of white blood cells in your system. What’s worse, when we’re experiencing occasional stress, we tend to sleep poorly, reduce our physical activities, and reach for unhealthy foods — putting, even more, pressure on the immune system. Make sure to keep occasional stress in check by dedicating a portion of your day to meditation and deep breathing exercises— in no time you’ll feel more centered and much more at ease.
6. Ignore All Of The Above & Get Outside: As long the thermometer and wind chill aren’t at dangerous levels, layer up and make the most of this magical time of year! Whether it’s snowboarding, skiing, snowga, jogging or another activity, working out in the winter has a long list of benefits. For one, the calories burn at a faster rate. As the body works harder to regulate its core temperature among the elements, you’ll burn a few more calories than you would have exerting the same level of energy indoors. While the calorie burn varies with each person’s body mass and the extremity of the temperature, it can be a nice morale booster (especially around the food-focused holidays) to get more out of your sweat session in this regard.
The other great reason to welcome a little cold weather into your daily routine is that it makes the heart work harder to distribute blood throughout the body. For an unhealthy heart that struggles to manage the additional stress, this process can exacerbate illness and injury so be careful and listen to your body. But a regular exerciser with cardiovascular endurance can make their heart muscle even stronger with these cold-weather sessions, better preparing the body for more strenuous workouts in the future — not to mention other non-exercise stresses in life.
Hopefully you won’t find yourself snowed in too many times this year but if you do, we hope this helps!
Warm Thoughts & Winter Wishes-
Special thanks to the Staebler Sisters, Jillian (@jillianstaebler) and Bethany (@bethanystaeblerphotography). Check them out on IG for more incredible photos, inspirational thoughts, and daily doses of life, love, and yoga in NYC.