Saturday, January 15, 2011

Have a Healthy January

Happy and healthy new year!

January is an inspiring month for getting healthier and making plans to stay that way throughout the year. Already we notice the days getting a little longer, and here in Guelph the continuous cold keeps the pretty snow on the ground and our favourite winter activities accessible.

4 Ways to Stay Healthy in January

1. Humidify. Cold outdoor air holds little moisture, and indoor heated air holds even less. This means that if we don't add extra humidity to our indoor air, our protective mucus membranes (the inner linings of our nostrils, mouth, throat and respiratory passages) can dry out and become susceptible to infection. Ensure your furnace's humidifier is in good working order and keep a humidifier running in your bedroom at night. A few drops of your favourite essential oil added to the humidifier water can make this into a bedtime treat. Try 5 drops of lavender for sweet dreams or eucalyptus as a decongestant.

2. Nourish. January weather inspires warm and nourishing meal planning. In the heart of winter, choose the easily-absorbable nutrients of soups and stews over raw foods (which can take energy away from the body as it tries to break them down). Try your green leafies lightly steamed, your root vegetables roasted, and beans, lentils or poultry simmered and stewed. Add herbs to liquid cooking methods for boosts of flavour and antioxidants. Ginger, garlic and onions are tasty additions that also help you fight of viral infections like common colds and influenza. Think "slow food" and take the time to sit, savour and your meals.  

3. Rest. It is midwinter, and there is still plenty of darkness to help cue our bodies to sleep a little more this season. Take advantage of the natural darkness by dimming the lights or opting for candlelight from dinner time until bedtime. Creating a dark and quiet environment during the few hours before bedtime will encourage the brain to produce more serotonin and melatonin, hormones essential to relaxation and deep, restorative sleep.

4. Refresh. After your long night of great sleep (see #4), bundle up and embrace refreshing winter weather with some circulation-pumping physical activity. Enjoy a 20- to 30-minute bout of winter walking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or skating as a way to keep your New Year's Resolution to get more fit while feeling happier about winter! The availability of snow for making snow angels, snowballs and tobogganing makes it a great time of year for getting the kids outside and moving. By getting moderate daily exercise you'll feel warmer and will have a stronger immune system all winter long. 

See you out on the cross-country ski trails!

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