• the top tips to help support your body + mind during the winter months
In the winter months, it can sometimes seem like our “zest for life” is a little low. But, in reality, there’s no need to wait until Spring to get back on our feet – there are small steps we can take to support and strengthen our immune system – right now!
And the good news is that it doesn’t have to be all high octane HIIT work-outs and juicing – a “gentle January” followed by a “fallow February” is a great way to ease yourself into the New Year. Many wellness experts now believe that going at your own pace rather than burning out on punishing detox plans is the key to good health in the longer term.
With the help of its expert supporters, super supplement Zest Active has put together some key pointers to help you feel at your very best:
- Nurture yourself in nature – as hard as it can seem to get outdoors in the Winter, it can have huge benefits on our physical and mental wellbeing. Studies show that starting your day with a walk in nature can boost energy levels for the rest of the day – one study found that people who walked outdoors for 20 minutes experienced more vitality and energy than those who walked indoors. So, try to find that window of sunshine or dry weather everyday and get out there. The change of scenery and the screen time break helps us to reconnect with nature and live in the moment. How does it work? Revive Active health expert, Dr Fiona Barry (PhD BSc Lic Ac MBAcC) explains, “One of the richest sources of Vitamin D comes from direct sunlight, particularly early morning sunlight, so as well as spending time outdoors in the winter months, it is recommended that we supplement our diet to offset the decrease in natural light at this time of year. Vitamin D plays an active role in supporting the normal function of the immune system and the maintenance of healthy bones.”
- Run well: While running may not be for everyone, it certainly has its benefits – it’s free, increases heart rate and provides the impact needed to improve bone density – especially important for women as we age. Winter is a key time for training, in preparation for races of all distances starting in the Spring – not least the famous TCS London Marathon (23rd April). However, it’s also the season that can hamper our new year fitness plans! Revive Active Brand Ambassador, three-time Olympian and European Gold Medallist Eilish McColgan has some advice to help keep you on track, “Trying to support my immune system has always been my Achilles heel – and it can be really difficult to boost immunity during the long winter training period and when I’m travelling. I take a super supplement – Zest Active – alongside a balanced nutritional plan. I’m currently building up my training to take part in my first ever London Marathon – so as well as putting in the miles, I also advise taking rest days to allow for muscle recovery and to avoid fatigue or ‘burn out’. Kit is really important in the winter to ensure you’re protecting your body and making sure you’re safe – I recommend taking a running belt or bag for your phone in case of an emergency en route such as an injury, wear layers to help adjust your body temperature, make sure your trainers have good soles for ankle support and grip for icy or wet conditions, stay visible with a high-vis headband, jacket or hat with an in-built torch and stay well hydrated. Also, don’t forget if you’re not comfortable training in the winter weather, you can play it safe with a walk or run on the gym treadmill. Any movement will help improve your mood and support your physical health” .
- Motivation is what gets you started – habit is what keeps you going! It takes 3 weeks to change a habit or build a new one. So, the start of the year is a great time to focus on what you’d like to achieve and plan how you can incorporate healthy habits into your life. For example, if you’re looking for long-term gains from your fitness plans, aim for at 20-30 minutes a day of moderate exercise, like walking, hiking, or yoga. By boosting your blood flow, exercise can help encourage the production of white blood cells, which protect your body from disease. Try to keep a journal of these simple positive changes and note down any improvements to your physical and mental wellbeing – so you can chart your progress! Dr Barry adds, “So many of us are time poor. All movement counts so making simple changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going for a 10 minute walk during our lunch break, it all adds up. And it creates good habits.”
- Power Up! Lack of daylight can be a real energy zapper, making us feel lethargic and tired. One way to combat this feeling is to look at our diets and introduce specific ingredients to help us power through the Winter period. Dr Fiona Barry comments, “Foods that are high in vitamin C and antioxidants have immune-boosting properties. So, in winter, it pays to head towards the vegetable section – and select rainbow of colours. Look to incorporate the following into your meals, drinks and snacks over the coming months; broccoli, ginger, garlic, spinach, almonds, turmeric and sunflower seeds. Protein is also essential for cell regeneration such as antibodies – so try to incorporate sources including chicken, eggs, fish, quinoa and chai seeds. It’s important to remember that during the winter months , when the weather is cold, we need to eat foods that warm us; casseroles, stews and soups are ideal. Eating foods that are in season and that are grown locally to you will also provide you with the food that is most beneficial to support your overall health and wellbeing.”
- Restore + snore Our body regenerates when we sleep, so getting enough rest is vital to keep the immune system strong and healthy. The hours before midnight are particularly important. Many of us are now well aware of good sleep hygiene “rules”; aiming for at least 7-8 hours a night, keeping our phones out of the bedroom, reducing alcohol, having a warm lavender bath or a chamomile tea. All these are right steps to take. However, the pace of modern life often means we fall into bad habits – going to bed too late and endlessly scrolling through social media. Try to be more mindful of your sleep in the winter months, keep a sleep journal or use a sleep tracker device and try to make small adjustments to improve the quality of your slumber.