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How to Stay Healthy, Content During Winter Months

Jeff Jurmain -- This winter's frigid weather may seem like a good excuse to avoid workouts, stay inside, and overindulge in comfort foods. While many assume they are happiest in doing so, health experts caution otherwise.

In many places, winter means cold, bleak weather, and symptoms of depression. A new study says that we need to surge past our inclination to hibernate during the winter months. We need to create a vision for being happy and healthy -- and then follow through. One of the biggest keys is exercise.

Frigid weather may seem like a good excuse to avoid workouts, stay inside and overindulge in comfort foods. While we know that is not the healthiest choice, many assume they are happiest in doing so. But, health experts have found that these tendencies leave most people feeling less content during the winter months. Instead, we need to make new traditions to boost our mood and avoid wintertime woes.

But we must do it carefully. Drastic New Year's changes are not a good idea. Instead, create some healthy traditions for the winter months. Incorporate activities and habits that promote health and can be shared with spouses, friends and family members each year. Try any number of ideas to get going.

-- Get in the right mindset. One good first step is to create a vision for the future by picturing yourself happy and healthy. Figure out which aspects of your life positively aid your health, and which detract. Then you have a springboard for new behaviors. Avoid negative habits.

-- Exercise is endlessly important. Staying physically active in the winter will directly translate to an improved quality of life. Get as much as you can, then try to get some more the next week. Since it's cold outside, aim for some indoor activities. Try new things, such as dance classes, swimming or water aerobics, or buy some exercise videos. Consider home fitness equipment such as jump ropes, treadmills, and stationary bikes. Having equipment at home makes it easier to stay physically active. Aim for bargains!

-- Think of things that are fun like playing with kids, doing crafts, and watching movies, and bring exercise into those things. Plan activity breaks, go for walks, and play games that involve movement.

-- Want to improve your mood? Get fun, get silly. It will make a difference. Ideas: wear bright colors, watch a comedy and laugh out loud (let it fly!), and socialize and spend time with family, old friends and new friends. Laughter reduces stress hormones, while staying social boosts happiness, improves self-worth and increases sense of purpose.

-- Be fun with food. Find healthy recipes online, print a dozen or more and randomly pick one to try each week. Eat as healthfully as possible.

Be realistic and get results you can feel. Change your behaviors and don't get caught in the same cycle each time winter rolls around.

To read more on alternative and natural health topics, visit Doctors Health Press.

© 2011 Jeff Jurmain

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