5 self-care tips for the winter

Hello Inside Team
5 self-care tips for the winter
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Do you sometimes feel a little sluggish in winter? Maybe you spend more time at home in front of the fire with a cup of tea? Are you less active because it's too cold outside? Or do you enjoy snowy walks in nature and winter sports? Many of us adapt our habits and self-care routines over the months. 

Every year, the changing seasons bring new challenges and new opportunities for your fitness and health routines and self-care. In this article, we'll take a closer look at how you should adapt your habits to each season and whether winter really is the best time to lose weight.

1. don't change your training program too much

Going for a run in the park on a warm spring day might seem nicer than in the middle of a snowy winter. But you should actually do both. As with sleep, quality, quantity and consistency of exercise are the most important factors in maintaining a healthy routine. In the long term, you should try to develop a sustainable and enjoyable exercise routine that you maintain throughout the year to make the best progress and see results. This way you can positively influence your metabolism and blood sugar in the long term.

Our bodies go through a series of changes and adaptations to overcome seasonal weather fluctuations. However, there is no solid evidence that you should actively change your behavior or exercise routine to compensate for this either.

Going for a run on cold winter days can actually be the best thing you can do for your body. The colder temperatures are ideal for improving cardiovascular health and endurance. The first few times you put on your running shoes in winter, it may seem like a big effort. But your body will get used to the cold temperatures. You might even enjoy feeling your breath as you run through the frosty and beautiful snowy landscape on a beautiful winter's day!

2. lose weight in winter

Let's start by saying that the most important thing is to be healthy and feel good in your body. If you still want to lose some weight to feel more comfortable in your skin, then winter is the perfect time to do so. Your body may store a little more fat during the warmer months. Your body is actually made for this. It naturally takes advantage of the warmer weather in summer and can store excess fat to prepare for the coming winter. But why is it easier to lose weight in winter?

You burn more calories in winter and in cold weather

The body's resting metabolism increases in winter when it is exposed to colder temperatures. Another example of exposure to cold is ice bathing. The body is then busy warming up (for example by shivering and other muscle contractions) in order to maintain its optimum temperature. This process requires energy and therefore increases the resting metabolic rate. This means that you burn more calories in the cold or in winter, simply by existing! Winter is therefore the ideal time for the body to lose weight, if that is your goal. 

However, you may also feel more tired as your body uses more energy when you are resting. Make sure your body has enough energy to get through the winter. Make sure you eat foods that are high in healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Many of these foods are more complex and therefore take longer to digest. This in turn has a positive effect on your blood sugar response and as we know, a Stable blood sugar your metabolism.

You are also likely to spend less time outdoors in the sun in winter. It is therefore also advisable to take vitamin D supplements. This will help to alleviate mood swings and boost your immune system.
Getting enough daylight is also very helpful to ensure you get your morning cortisol boost. It also triggers the evening rise in the 'vampire' hormone melatonin. This helps to regulate your sleep cycle, keeping your immune system in check during the winter months. A good night's sleep also helps to regulate your blood sugar the next day.

As a general rule, you should try to get outside before 9am every day in winter (or whenever makes the most sense in your time zone). This signals to your body that it's time to get moving and gets the cortisol flowing!

With the findings from blood glucose tracking with the Hello Inside app, you can get to know these correlations for your health and well-being and use the cold to your advantage.

3. remember to warm up (and cool down)

In the colder months, your muscles are tenser than in the warmer months. This means that you should do some stretching and warm-up exercises before your normal training program. This will help you to avoid injuries and keep your performance optimal.

Although warm-up exercises are always important, their importance increases in the colder months. In summer, your muscles are naturally warmer and more relaxed, making it easier for you to get going straight away. But especially if you're new to exercise, it's important that you warm up before and after any physical activity and stretch afterwards. Just a few minutes can make a big difference and help you get started.

This will strengthen your muscles and prevent serious injuries that could potentially keep you from your new fitness program for weeks, months or even longer. More exercise also supports your blood sugar and metabolism. And as always, pay attention to the quality, quantity and consistency of your sleep. This gives your body time to recover and regenerate.

4. spend as much time as possible outside in daylight

Apart from the changing temperatures, one of the biggest differences between winter and summer is that the days are much shorter and longer. In winter, less sunlight means that you get much less vitamin D than at other times of the year. So make sure you always make the most of the sunlight and walk while it's still light. Even on the busiest working days, take the time to go for a walk during your lunch break. Get some fresh air and enjoy the daylight. This will also help your photon and melatonin production so that you can regulate your sleep more easily. And it can't be repeated often enough: Exercise in the fresh air is also important for your metabolism and blood sugar.

The magic of vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an important role in your metabolism, but so far scientists aren't quite sure exactly how important it is. However, we do know that vitamin D has many other important functions, such as regulating blood pressure, heart health and muscle function. Vitamin D also plays an important role in regulating the immune system. 

The best way to get vitamin D is to walk in the sun. If you live in a region where you can't rely on the sun always shining, you can also get it from foods such as oily fish, egg yolks, certain mushrooms or meat. In the northernmost and southernmost parts of the world, the sun is not strong enough in winter to absorb enough vitamin D through the skin. It is therefore highly advisable to take supplements to ensure that you do not suffer from a deficiency. However, it is best to discuss this with your doctor. 

Interesting facts about vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means that it needs fat in order to be absorbed. Normal food supplement capsules already contain fat for this very purpose. If this is not the case, take vitamin D with some fat (after lunch). Vitamin D is found in food supplements in various forms: Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D (D2) comes from plant sources, while vitamin D3 comes mainly from animal sources such as fish oil, fatty fish, liver and egg yolk. One study found that vitamin D3 is almost twice as effective as ergocalciferol in raising serum levels of 25(OH)D when administered (meaning that it is converted into higher amounts of calcifediol (the active form of vitamin D))[1] The average person probably needs no more than 600 to 800 IU per day (unless the doctor recommends otherwise). Taking more than 100 micrograms (4,000 IU) of vitamin D per day could be harmful. 

5. many of the effects of seasonal changes are offset by modern lifestyles

Humans are designed to adapt to different seasons. Nowadays, however, these changes are not as pronounced as they used to be. Many of the conditions that lead to changes in metabolism or physical performance can be compensated for by modern lifestyles.
Sometimes your body may not go fully into 'winter mode'. This is the case, for example, if you heat your house in winter and wrap up properly when you go outside. If you work out in a gym, your cardiovascular system won't be under as much strain as if you go jogging on a frozen lake on a freezing morning. So you can use heat and cold to target your training.

So keep up your healthy habits all year round and go outside even on the colder days. Being outdoors has many benefits for our bodies at any time of year.
A walk or a run helps to clear your head and reduce stress, even on the busiest days. This allows you to balance your mental and physical needs.

New insights across all seasons

Hello Inside helps you keep an eye on your blood glucose levels throughout the year. This allows you to recognize unusual spikes or patterns in your blood sugar levels that could indicate that you should change your routine. Or you can experiment with seasonal changes. What happens when you adapt your diet to seasonal ingredients? Are there new vegetables and fruits to discover? And how does your blood sugar behave in an ice bath or winter run compared to summer? As you can see, there are numerous reasons to wear a CGM more often and take a look inside your own body.

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