It’s that time of the year when every warm day counts. In summer we take the sunshine for granted; the braais and beach days seem unlimited. There’s no doubt about it, being healthy is easier in summer. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can prepare for winter.
Look, after the past couple of years it’s totally understandable if you’re tired of health-related precautions. Masks and hand sanitising can be annoying, and it’s tough to commit to them with the same amount of fervour as back when we were all baking banana bread and clapping for healthcare workers. The thing is, though, they work. Flu season has actually been far less severe thanks to all the additional measures that people have been taking. Let’s face it, being sick sucks. It disrupts your productivity, delays your fitness goals and is an all-round drain on your life. Even with the worst of the pandemic seemingly behind us, keeping up small habits like hand sanitising and getting your flu shots can make your winter much, much better.
Look after your skin
Men’s skincare products might be marketed with manly names such as Iron Blaze and Arctic Punch, but your skin is actually pretty delicate and needs to be carefully looked after in winter. The combination of indoor heating and colder temperatures outside can cause your skin to dry out, making it essential for you to pay attention to your body’s largest organ.There are few proven ways to do this, according to the Skin and Laser Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. First, moisturise daily. Next, protect your face from the elements. Wind and winter sun can both cause your skin to dry out, so protect with a day cream. Finally, don’t overdo the cleansing. Too much soap and water can wash away your skin’s natural moisturisers.
Spend time in the sun
It can be tempting to completely hibernate when it’s cold outside, but there’s reason to believe that spending time out in the winter sun is not only good for your mood, but also for your waistline.According to research published by the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, fat cells just beneath our skin shrink when exposed to the blue light emitted by the sun.
Wake up Well
Mornings are some of the most challenging parts of the winter months. It’s cold, it’s dark and there seems to be no reason not to sleep for just another 10 minutes. Unfortunately, there is a reason. Waking up later creates a domino effect that can be difficult to recover from. It means there’s less time to do the things you need to do, it can affect your mood, and being late can create unnecessary stress in your life. Rather than let the cold and dark decide, set your alarm for a reasonable time and stick to getting up at that time. It’ll be tough at first, but it’s a habit that will help to see you through the winter months.
Hack the evolutionary code
You overeat in winter and it’s (partially) not your fault. According to a study from the University of Exeter, we have evolved to subconsciously eat more in winter. From an evolutionary perspective, the dangers of being underweight were far greater than the dangers of being overweight, and thus we are conditioned to try and maintain body fat during the cold months. Unfortunately, life has changed to the point where the threats posed by obesity are very real and we have to consciously deprogramme ourselves. The best way to do this is to track your intake of kilojoules. It’s difficult to argue with hard numbers – and it’s much easier to curb your subconscious desire to overeat when you can see it in black and white.
Words by Joel Summers