Vavista’s own Medical Director, Dr Sally Norton shares her tips here on some simple winter wins…
As we head into winter, some of us, myself included, can feel a bit gloomy at the thought of dark nights and grey skies.
But winter can have a host of benefits for health, weight and mood. So how can you make the most of winter this year? Here are just three words to remember…..
First off, make walking a regular event. Rain, hail sun or snow!
Many people think that exercise is only valuable if it’s burning heaps of calories and making you hot, sweaty and breathless. Yes, cardio exercise that pushes up your pulse and blood pressure has its place, but simple walking is underrated. Not only does a gentle walk help you prioritise your thoughts and plans for the day, but it also allows you to de-stress and reduce cortisol which helps to reduce insulin resistance, making weight loss easier.
A brisk walk, to the point where you can just manage sentence, is good too – pushing your heart rate into the optimal zone for fat-burn without over-stressing your body. Studies show it may be as good as a run for weight loss.
And don’t let the cold put you off – it can increase your energy as well as the levels of brown fat. Brown fat is a healthy fat which burns rather than stores energy, so get out there when temperatures drop. On that front it’s worth ensuring your central heating isn’t too high, for the planet’s sake as well as your own!
Big bowls of nutrient-rich, veggie-based soups, chilies and stews are wonderful winter comfort foods that fill you up in a healthy way. Throw in some chickpeas, lentils or other pulses to keep hunger at bay and boost your fibre levels even more, as the lack of fibre in our diet is contributing to the increase in bowel diseases that we are seeing now. And, fibre is a pre-biotic, meaning it’s great for boosting our healthy gut bacteria. More and more studies are showing the effect that our gut flora can have on our health, our weight and even our mood!
If you’ve got a few pounds to lose, focusing on nutrients rather than obsessing about calories, reduces cravings and makes weight loss less of a battle.
Longer nights can make it easier to head to bed early….and even manage a lie in, if you’re lucky. It’s clear that a good 7-8 hours sleep, on a nightly basis is one of the best things that we can do for our health and weight.
Studies show that poor sleep increases the risk of heart disease, weight gain and more – not to mention an increased risk of road traffic accidents in the poor light and the wet or icy roads of winter.
So, what three words should you remember this winter?! Walk, nourish, sleep.
It’s as simple as that. Forget fads and just prioritise those essentials. And you’ll be in good shape for spring!