6 Healthy Habits You Should Try This Winter
Shorter days and darker evenings are starting to take a toll on your workout routine, you’re not alone!
It can be hard to find the motivation to stay active, especially during winter. But that doesn’t mean all is lost – and we’re here to help. Try these 6 healthy habits to kickstart a happier and healthier you.
1. Drink more water (& tea)
Cooler temperatures may not make you feel as sweaty or thirsty, but it's important to stay hydrated. Did you know that approximately 60% of the human body is made up of water and is essential for many bodily functions? Drinking enough water helps our brain function, kidney function and digestion, and it can also improve your workouts by helping to prevent cramps and reduce the chance of dizziness during exercise. Do you drink enough water throughout the day? Factors such as how much you exercise (especially if you get sweaty!) and the climate of where you live can increase how much liquid you need to stay hydrated. It’s a simple habit that we can all improve on by making sure we have access to water wherever we are. Keeping a reusable water bottle at hand will encourage you to drink more throughout the day, rather than only reaching for it when your dehydration cues kick in. Why not try a winter hack like drinking more tea. Black and green tea have plant chemicals like flavonoids which have antioxidant effects and makes It a bit easier to keep the winter water habit up.
2. Get 6-8 hours of sleep every night
One healthy habit that isn't as difficult to keep up during the winter is ensuring you get enough sleep. Sleep is a powerful tool and it’s recommended that you aim to get 6 to 8 hours of quality sleep per night. Sleep not only helps to improve your brain function and lower stress, but it also has many benefits for your fitness journey. Quality sleep can help to enhance muscle recovery through the release of human growth hormone (HGH) and also helps weight management through the regulation of leptin and ghrelin – the hormones which signal when you feel full or hungry. We recommend creating a sleep diary. Tracking your sleep can be a handy way to notice patterns such as struggling to fall to sleep after a stressful day at work and help highlight areas you may want to take action on. Creating a bedtime routine can also be a great habit to help you sleep and feel better. Switching off devices before bed and listening to sleep meditation are two ways you could improve your bedtime routine.
3. Plan out your meals to stay fuelled
When working out In cooler temperatures, more energy Is being used up to keep your body warm so It's important to plan out your nutrition intake and make sure you are fuelled up. Spending a little time to plan out your meals for the week can be helpful in not only staying on track but minimizing food waste too. Think of it like planning out your week at work or your training regiment, a little extra planning goes a long way. If we have healthy, nutritious food and snacks at hand, it's much easier to eat well than if we leave it up to chance. When we’re hungry we’re much less likely to make a healthy choice, so having things planned out will help you eat tasty, nutritious food that helps you reach your goals. Another great habit is to double up on recipes – so when you make something delicious for dinner, make double. That way you then have tasty and nutritious leftovers for lunch the next day. Consider winter warmers such as casseroles and stews with lots of vegetables when planning in your meals for the week, and you’ll soon find you’re eating better and also saving time cooking! Feeling uninspired? Check out our recipes for healthy meal Ideas.
4. Move more indoors
It's easy to let our activity slip in the winter when it gets dark early and all we want to do is to curl up in a blanket. This winter, try indoor activities to keep yourself active such as yoga, swimming or dancing, or join a team such as an indoor soccer or bowling league. You can also make a habit of moving more throughout the day. This doesn’t need to be as Intense as hiking up a mountain, hitting the gym five days a week or walking 20 miles a day. You can start by simply making better choices with your movement to help increase your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, also known as NEAT. NEAT refers to the energy expended (calories burned) for everything you do that isn’t sleeping, eating or exercising. In the winter, this can be things such as cleaning the house, walking to the kitchen to grab lunch or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. These small bits of movement all help to increase the calories your body burns, so if your goal is to improve your fitness or lose weight why not try to make some small switches this winter. It all adds up and will make all the difference towards your health and fitness goals!
5. Prioritize rest and recovery
Don't be afraid to take the odd rainy or snowy day off. it’s still important to prioritize rest and recovery. Rest days let your body repair and stop you from burning out. In the long run, that means you can work out harder and perform better. So, it’s a win-win if you want to build healthy habits that stick. Remember, there is a fine balance between having the dedication to reach your goals and ignoring your bodies cues to slow down. So, think about planning your rest days in like you would your workouts, and listen to your body when it needs to rest.
6. Set your goals for the week
When motivation wanes from shorter days and darker evenings, it becomes even more important to set a plan. Planning and prepping your week makes you more likely to get it done. Essentially, a plan is a commitment to take action and helps you to see a clear journey towards reaching your goals. That makes it much easier to motivate yourself when you can physically see what you need to get done that day, and how that will take you one step closer to your end target. Why not try setting goals this week. This could be things such as doing 4 workouts that week or drinking 8 glasses of water per day. The important thing with goal setting is to make it measurable. That way you can clearly track your progress and how far you have left to go.
It can also be really handy to have someone to keep you accountable. Having a health buddy is also a great way to turn your goals into reality – having someone going through the same thing helps to keep you motivated and accountable, and more likely to stick with it. What other healthy habits do you recommend or will you be trying this year? Share them with the rest of the Pure Fitness community on our social channels.