It's important to exercise regulary - indoors or outdoors - during the winter.

Today’s post was adapted from an article written by our nutritionists in the Department of Nutrition at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH). The article originally appeared on the BWH Health-e-Weight website.

No matter what the season, staying healthy requires a balance of good eating and physical activity. Winter, however, poses some unique challenges due to holiday parties, harsh conditions, and cold-weather cravings. Follow these tips for more thoughtful food choices and cold-weather exercise to stay fit and healthy this winter!

Even during the cold weather months, there are many fresh foods available in your produce section. Look for seasonal green and orange vegetables which are packed with vitamins and minerals to
help ward off winter illnesses.

  • Kale and mustard greens are great additions to soups and stews, or they can be sautéed.
  • Squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin make great baked dishes and are high in fiber. Keep in mind that these root vegetables are dense and filling, so keep portions moderate.
  • In-season pineapples, citrus, and apples make satisfying snacks or delicious fruit salads.

As the days get shorter and the temperatures fall, we also tend to reach for our favorite comfort foods. Follow these tips to prepare foods that are both comforting and healthy.

  • Choose broth-based soups, such as minestrone, and add some of those green and orange winter vegetables.
  • In the morning, start your day off right with a bowl of oatmeal. This high-fiber cereal will keep you satisfied all morning, especially with a small handful of nuts added for protein.
  • There are also simple substitutions you can make to decrease calories. Indulge in a healthier macaroni and cheese by using low-fat dairy products: skim or reduced-
    fat milk and cheese and whole-wheat pasta. Add tomatoes and onions to boost flavor and nutritional benefits.
  • Pay attention to portion sizes in recipes and prepared foods. Individual servings are often smaller than what we actually consume.

Plan ahead when attending holiday parties with family and friends.

  • The day of a party, don’t skip meals. Maintain a regular eating schedule so you’ll be less likely to overeat
    when you arrive.
  • Go for the nut bowl. Having a small handful of nuts will satisfy you more than the chips and dip,
    and you’ll eat less throughout the course of the evening.
  • Help yourself to the fruit and vegetable platters. The fiber found in fruits and vegetables is filling and balances out heavier, starchy foods.
  • Have small amounts of your favorite foods and desserts but try leaving space on the plate to control portions. Eat slowly to enjoy indulgent holiday foods longer.  And remember, holiday
    gatherings are also about people – talking slows down eating.

Physical activity needs to be done on a regular basis to maintain health and fitness benefits.  You can’t limit exercise to eight or nine months out of the year.  Staying physically active during harsh weather can be more challenging, but it is possible with some planning and creativity.

  • Build a winter wardrobe for outdoor exercise. You don’t have to spend a fortune at a sports store.
    Discount department stores offer lower-budget gear. Layering is the key. This allows you to stay at
    the right temperature. You can shed layers as you get moving, and then add them back as you cool
    down. Make sure you have good footwear for traction, water resistance, and warmth.
  • If venturing outdoors doesn’t appeal to you, try an exercise video that you can do from the comfort of your
    home, or join a local gym. This may be the perfect time try an exercise class, such as yoga, step, or
    Pilates.

Beyond weight control, physical activity can be especially beneficial during the winter, when our moods are already prone to being “down”, boosting energy and attitude.

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