Life is a conundrum these days. We want to be fit and healthy while avoiding germs and contagion. We need to stay active, but the weather is (let’s be honest) icky. Exercise is vital but equipment, online classes, and gear are expensive. Don’t be discouraged, there are ways to combat holiday over-indulgence and beat the rainy-day blues without spending a dime.
Exercise is extra important in the wintertime, and not just because of Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas cookies, and hand-warming cocoa. Healthline explains that it makes you feel happier by improving your mood and decreasing feelings of depression. It also helps the brain regulate stress and anxiety and produces endorphins that make us feel better. “Interestingly,” they say, “it doesn’t matter how intense your workout is. It seems that your mood can benefit from exercise no matter the intensity of the physical activity.”
It has also been shown to provide a stimulant-free energy boost that enhances brain health and memory. Are too many dark, gray days zapping your get-up-and-go? Exercise is the answer and unlike your afternoon Starbucks run, cheaper.
Exercise also reduces pain, aids sleep, and relaxation, and can help you lose a few pounds. But with ongoing COVID-19 worries and the weather keeping us indoors most of the day, it’s time to find safe, free exercises anyone can do.
Used to exercising with weights to boost productivity? Before you order a set online, look around for household items that can fill in. Canned veggies can become hand weights and a recycled milk jug filled with water is an impromptu kettlebell. Or, if they’re not too giggly and wiggly, try lifting your kids for a few reps…if you can.
The internet and YouTube have a wide variety of no-equipment workout suggestions including twists on the common burpee, lunge, or squat. There’s low-impact yoga and nearly stationary planking to work your core. Or go old school P.E. teacher and stick to jumping jacks, sit-ups, pull-ups, push-ups, and running in place. Turn on some relaxing meditation music or high-intensity rock to motivate the entire family to join in.
If any of these exercises exacerbate an ongoing ache or cause an old injury to flare up, talk with your doctor right away. Often R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) will do the trick but occasionally more is needed. At Pacific Surgical Center in Longview, they treat orthopedic and general surgery needs on an outpatient basis every day.
Orthopedic surgery at PSC involves minimally invasive treatment for issues involving bone, muscle, joint, cartilage, and ligaments. These can be caused by trauma, disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, sports injuries, infection, congenital conditions, or a work-related injury. Most orthopedic care centers around the foot, ankle, leg, knee, hand, arm, or shoulder.
Best yet, most of the pre-and post-operative care, lab work, and imaging can be done under the same roof. This means fewer return visits during the dark, soggy winter months when staying home is exactly what the doctor ordered.
While you’re recovering and exercise isn’t an option, there are a few healthy foods that help boost mood and conquer the seasonal blues. Lentils and leafy greens have lots of folates which combats depression. Get plenty of fiber from berries and whole grains to combat inflammation which has been linked to depression and anxiety.
Other depression fighters are iron-rich foods with high levels of zinc like broccoli, cauliflower, and soy. Nuts, seeds, and high omega-3 fatty acid fish like salmon are great, as are fermented products with probiotics like kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickles. They all work together to combat S.A.D., seasonal affective disorder, until warmth and sunshine return.
Winter is inevitable, as are the bumps and bruises it brings. But staying fit and healthy is not only good for the body, it builds a strong body, mind, attitude, and immune system. All things put to the test by the chaos of our recent pandemic-impacted world.
If additional treatment is needed, speak with your primary care provider about whether PSC could help you stop living with pain and immobility. Why face another spring feeling less than 100%? Give Pacific Surgical Center a call at 360.442.7900 today. Their top-of-the-line equipment, highly trained doctors, compassionate care team, and transparent pricing mean you’ll face 2022 without a long recovery or fear of financial sticker shock. Until then, dust off that leftover can of cranberry sauce, turn up the radio and get moving on a new fitness routine. Don’t worry, no one will see you sweating to the oldies in your pajamas.