Spas in Ireland

Winter Wellbeing

By , December 23, 2010

Cosy nights by the fire, forgiving woolly jumpers, harsh elements outdoors… it’s easy to understand why our exercise regimes often go into hibernation for the winter months until beach body panic kicks in later in the year.

However neglecting your health during winter can have all manner of unexpected results. If you dread the thought of venturing out into the grueling wind and snow there are lots of exercises you can and should do at home, you may be surprised at just how important is to stay active this winter:

Hearty Health
Our bodies have to work a lot harder in winter. Not only is there a greater threat of catching cold and flu, studies have also shown that heart attacks are more common in winter months. Cold weather causes arteries to tighten which can restrict the flow of blood to the heart. This means your heart has to work extra hard to get oxygen flowing and to keep you warm. Exercise is the easiest way to get your blood pumping, improving circulation and increasing energy.

Circulation Sensations
Decreased circulation not only means your heart has more work to do, it can also lead to painful hands and feet and a sensation of pins and needles. Aerobic exercise is recommended to improve circulation as it uses oxygen to help the body break down sugar, as opposed to anaerobic where sugar is broken down without the use of oxygen.

The easiest way to include this in your daily routine is taking the stairs in work or walking up and down the stairs at home.  This will help warm you up and burn twice as many calories as walking on flat ground.

Vitamin Zzzs
Winter can play havoc with your natural sleep routine. The ratio of daylight hours to darkness changes drastically, often leaving us getting out of bed in darkness and returning home the same way that evening.

Aerobic exercise has been proven to help people fall asleep faster and more deeply. It’s important however to avoid exercise right before bed time. Instead exercise several hours before you go to bed and wind down with a hot shower or bath. Improving the quality of your sleep will help your body to repair and rebuild its defenses which allows for a stronger immune system.

Winter Woes
Perhaps even more common than the common cold is the ailment of winter blues. The dark evenings, rain and cold can wreak havoc on more than just your physical health, they take their toll on your psychological state too. Exercise is the best way to counteract this au natural, as it causes you brain to release endorphins (those happy hormones we hear so much about). Not only this, the increased blood flow to the brain will also make you more alert and improve memory and overall brain function.

Healthy Helpings
Remember no exercise regime is complete without an accompanying healthy diet, especially in winter. Make up for the lack of sunshine-provided Vitamin D by stocking up on egg yolks, green leafy vegetables and certain types of fish. Vitamin C is also a must in winter as although it does not actually prevent colds it may help make them milder and shorter, so indulge in healthy amounts of cheese and yoghurt. Lastly, some well chosen carbohydrates can go a long way towards improving ‘happy’ serotonin levels. Try whole grains, sweet potatoes and squash.


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