Wow – my thermometer read -11 degrees this morning!! “Baby it’s cold outside” – the song by Dean Martin, has some interesting (ahem) suggestions for warming up with his lusty lady friend. But how shall we make healthy choices to not only stay warm, but away from illness this winter season?
1. Exercise – pumping your blood is the fastest, easiest way to get warm from the inside out! Plus it releases feel-good endorphins, reduces stress and decreases cortisol. When we increase our blood circulation, that also facilitates lymphatic circulation, which carries the amazing river of infection-fighting white blood cells. Even when I feel a little cold coming on, I still do at least a light cardio workout – walking or the elliptical for 30 minutes – because I truly believe in the science behind raising one’s internal temperature and the effect it has to fight colds.
When we start from a healthier, stronger place, our immune systems are already primed and ready to fight off invaders; even if something does attack, we will be more likely to bounce back more quickly if we have healthy habits before getting sick.
2. Intake of warm food and drink – Mom is always right! Chicken soup has now been scientifically proven to assist in recovering from a cold! http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Story?id=117888&page=1 This tactic can also be used preventively. Eating hot healthy soup, tea, hot water with lemon – these all raise the body’s internal temperature and can take the chill out of your bones.
Additionally, utilizing warming spices can reduce inflammation, and can spark the body’s digestive fires: cinnamon, ginger, pepper, turmeric, curry, garlic, and horseradish are great examples. I add cinnamon to yogurt or oatmeal, drink ginger tea, and add pepper (black or cayenne) to everything. Even plain rice can be spruced up with a few dashes of turmeric – and the color is so vibrant it will make you forget the bleak outdoors.
3. Attire – both traditional and modern technology-based fabrics have their merit when insulating our bodies from the cold. Silk and certain tech-fabrics make wonderful, thin “base layers.” Don’t just rely on these for skiing or football games! Silk long underwear can keep some of our 98 degrees of body temperature close to us, while still allowing the skin and body to breathe. That is key – you don’t want to end up sweating with no way to get rid of that moisture, as that would be a quick slide into frostbite. Once you have your base layer, adding intelligent mid-layers is the way to go. For top layers, be sure that any exposed skin is covered with high-quality winter gear. Thin fabric gloves just won’t cut it when we are in the negative temperatures! Water-repellant fabric is key if you will be out in the snow or sleet. I purchased an overall style snow pant from Dick’s that is not necessarily attractive, but soooo warm! I can actually wear thin yoga pants underneath and still be very warm- they are insulated, thick, and waterproof.
4. Hand Washing!!!!! Needs no more words – just do it!
5. Extra credit
– External warmth from heated rice or corn bags (ex: the long neck warmers)
– Heated electric throws, blankets, and mattress pads
– Hand and foot warmers – place inside pockets or gloves for 6+ hours of toasty hands
– Fireplace heat, wood burning stove
– Hot bath – add Epsom Salts for muscle soreness relief, and / or various essential oils for different purposes: Rosemary for circulation, Eucalyptus for clearing sinus congestion, Lavender for relaxation, or Citrus for uplifting.
6. Come get a massage! Of course this is the last and best way to keep yourself healthy and warm this winter! Massage boosts circulation, happy hormones, and here at Bodywork Professionals, we keep the office at a warm 74 degrees, and our massage tables have adjustable heat levels – all the way up to 134 degrees. Try a hot stone massage for extra applied warmth! I personally incorporate pressure points that are associated with healthy immune function, and have a great series of sinus pressure points I may apply as needed per client request.
Stay safe, happy, warm, and well – we look forward to seeing you soon!