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Tips to Beat Winter Health Woes

When the weather turns icy and snow starts to fall, you may want to do nothing more than curl up under your comforter and stay there forever. Make the trek to Harris and face biting winds? Forget it, I have Easy Mac in my room. How about heading to the AC? Of course not, who needs to freeze in the name of fitness? When it comes down to it, most of us willingly give up some of our health habits in the colder months out of sheer necessity.

Come wintertime, staying healthy is a much harder task. Colds are as common as all-nighters during final exams, and we often choose unhealthy options, like microwave dinners, in lieu of facing the cold outside to eat at Harris. Heading to the gym from South Campus may be a bit ridiculous in the dead of winter, so what are some options to help stay healthy and active during icy weather? Here are some tips to combat sickness, stay active, and face a myriad of other winter health woes.

Fight the Flu

The best way to take care of an illness is to prevent it. One of the most effective ways to do this is through diet. Eating foods rich in vitamins, such as fruits and vegetables, help boost immunity, specifically produce that is yellow or orange. These kinds of produce, like butternut squash, carrots, ad sweet potatoes, have high quantities of carotenoids and flavonoids, which are key disease-fighting nutrients. Next time you’re at Harris, look for their butternut squash soup or glazed sweet potatoes as dinner options.

Another way to prevent illness is by getting an adequate amount of sleep. Towards the end of the semester, this may seem an impossible task, but not getting enough sleep ends up lowering one’s immunity. If it is too difficult to do during the week, even catching up on the weekends can be helpful. So turn off your alarm Friday night and get the well-deserved rest you need.

If you do end up getting sick, the best ways to get over your cold quicker are to take medicine, drink warm liquids, take a hot shower and gargle salt water for temporary relief, and, once again, get some rest. Medicine is pretty self-explanatory, so make sure you stock up on Dayquil and Tylenol. Drinking warm liquids, such as tea and soup, helps to relieve nasal congestion as well as soothe inflamed mucus membranes. For a sore throat, gargling salt water temporarily reduces swelling, and to relieve congestion, a hot, steamy shower opens up nasal passages. Most importantly, though, is sleep; when your sick, your immunity is lowered and your body is worn out more easily because it is fighting the illness, so giving it the proper time to recover ensures that you will be able to combat the illness more quickly.

Get Moving

If you don’t mind facing the snow and wind on your way to the AC, by all means go for it. For the rest of us content to stay in our heated rooms, there are several options to stay fit and healthy. Look in any health and fitness magazine, such as “Shape” or “Women’s Health,” and you will usually find workout pages that can be ripped out and followed indoors, generally with no equipment needed. Or break out your yoga mat and YouTube some videos of yoga lessons or other exercises; if you can get over the bad music and retro hairstyles, “Eight Minute Abs” on YouTube leads you through a simple yet effective core exercise.

There are also a plethora of fitness apps that you can download to your smart phone. “Nike Training Club” has a variety of circuit training options, with videos explaining each move and audio cues on when you are to move on to the next one. “Pocket Yoga” will guide you through a full yoga sessions, offering images to go along with each position. “Workout Trainer” is also a good one; it’s similar to Nike’s, but you can tailor your selection of workouts based off of how much time you have, the equipment (or lack thereof) you have access too, the muscles you want to target, and also the intensity level of the workout.

 

Eat Well

Skipping the dining hall and warming up Easy Mac in your microwave may be tempting, but in the long run it’s not going to do any good for your health. The best option would be to bundle up and head to Harris, JA or Freeman for a balanced meal, but that may not always be possible (or, admit it, you’re just feeling lazy). For times like these, keeping your fridge and room stocked with healthy options ensures you make healthy choices. For snacks, unbuttered popcorn or a cup of Greek yogurt are great choices, as are fruit taken from dining halls during your last visit.

When you want a full meal, instead of ordering Dominos, try making your own pizza; all you need is a whole wheat English muffin, some tomato or red sauce, and grated cheese. Slice the muffin and top each half with a scoop of sauce and a sprinkling of cheese, and stick it in the microwave until it melts. Or you can make a quesadilla by melting the cheese on a tortilla roll, then adding any topping you like (or the toppings that are available to you), such as salsa, guacamole, or vegetables. A third option is a baked potato; just poke some holes into it with a fork, wrap it in a paper towel, and warm it up until you can easily slice into it. Ultimately, the goal is to be creative with what you have available to you, whether it’s Cheerios and peanut butter or produce you got from Target the other day. And the next time you go to Harris, keep an eye out for food that you can easily bring with you back to your room, like fruits, vegetables and bread.

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