Why we love winter wellness!
1. It's time to start fresh
A change of season is the perfect opportunity to make a fresh start. “A new season can be a great time to make a clean start on your goals,” says psychologist Gavin Freeman. Winter is especially great if those New Year’s resolutions have long been forgotten. “Try splitting your weight-loss targets into summer goals and winter challenges, so you’re constantly updating and fine-tuning your routine and learning more about yourself with each step,” says Freeman.
2. The snow is a fitness wonderland
A trip to the snow can make a great fitness holiday. Never been before? There’s no time like the present to try something new and fun!
3. Cosying up is good for your health
A little hibernating could help you reach your health and wellness goals! Studies have shown that having restless, or too little sleep, might lead to incremental weight gain. Hormone alterations, which are created when you’re tired, have the potential to increase food consumption and make you less likely to move throughout the day. Alternatively, a study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that a good night’s sleep aids weight-loss. The study’s participants all had a goal of losing at least 4.5kg, and were instructed to shave the same amount of kilojoules from their diet, workout for three hours a week and keep food diaries. They were also encouraged to work on lowering their stress levels and to make sleep a priority. The result? The people who managed to get between six and eight hours of sleep were much more likely to achieve their weight-loss goal.
4. It's time to slow cook
Comfort food isn’t inherently unhealthy. One of the best ways to make good-for-you winter food is with a slow-cooker. “It’s perfect for cooking lots of vegies and lean cuts of meat in one pot,” says accredited practising dietitian Maria Packard. “Plus, your meal virtually cooks itself and fills your home with fab aromas!” To bulk up casseroles and stews, add high-fibre, low-GI carbohydrates like quinoa, brown rice and wholegrain pasta. They’ll help you stay fuller for longer, and when that happens you’ll be less tempted to reach for high-kilojoule cold-weather snack foods in between meals. Check out our favourite slow cooking recipes this winter!
5. Winter social sports are back
Winter team sports, such as soccer and netball, are a fun way to enjoy fitness in the colder weather. Even helping coach your kids’ sports teams will mean you’re moving more -an hour or two of activity on Saturday mornings is the perfect way to start your weekend on the right note.
6. It's a time to surprise your body
Winter is the perfect time of year to mix up your activity routine. So if you usually go for a walk, but doing that in cold weather really isn't your thing, do a workout from home instead. Check out our winter fitness ideas.
7. A better time to bushwalk
Heading outdoors for a bushwalk in winter is very different to hiking in summer – and that’s good news! There are no flies, you’re less likely to get hot and sweaty, and the air is fresh and clear. Another bonus? Research suggests that it’s easier to walk for longer when the temperature is cooler.
8. Sensational seasonal snacks
There are lots of delicious fruits available in winter that are not only tasty but can help you stay well throughout the cooler months. Oranges, mandarins and lemons come loaded with vitamin C which can assist keep the common cold at bay. Not to mention pears and apples that can be turned into the tastiest winter treat when baked in the oven. Check out our guide to apples and our favourite recipes using them.
9. Soups season
Soups are the ultimate winter comfort food. Not only are they filling, but by adding lentils, beans and as many vegetables as you like, you’ll have a convenient one-pot meal that’s packed with fibre and nutrients. Browse our hearty winter soup recipes.
10. Your garden still needs you
Don’t let your vegie patch wither over winter! Now is a great time to plant onions, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, shallots and Asian greens. All that physical work in the garden provides a great incidental workout, too.
11. Unique seasonal activities
Look for unique, seasonal activities you can enjoy with friends or family, like ice skating. Plenty of fun runs and walking events also take place in winter, too.
12. The sun rises later
Because the sun comes up closer to 7am in winter, it means you can get up later for that walk and still enjoy the sunrise. While activity is great at any time of day, there are extra health benefits for morning exercisers. Some studies show it leads to better sleep at night, and US research found that people who exercised at 7am – compared to 1pm or 7pm – had a 10 percent reduction in blood pressure throughout the day and a 25 percent reduction in the evening.
13. A hot drink can help you sleep
Cold evenings are made for curling up on the couch and cupping your hands around a warm drink. Make it a chamomile tea and you might get a better night’s rest. Researchers say the herbal tea acts like a mild sedative, because it encourages the body to produce more glycine, a nerve- and muscle-relaxing chemical.
14. Mother nature can kick a cold
We all know it’s the season for colds and flu. Why? One reason is that everyone gathers inside, which allows germs to spread more easily. But one way to ward off a winter illness might be to get out in the cold, and get moving. A US study found that people who exercised at least five days a week had 43 percent fewer ‘sick days’ than people who exercised for one day or less, each week.
15. Strong minds are made now
Winter is a great opportunity to build on your sense of drive and resilience. “If you’re able to mentally put up with the weather challenges that winter can throw at you, you’ll be able to push even harder in the less challenging seasons,” says Freeman. “It’s about building mental resilience.”