Getting Exercise in the Winter
It’s cold and dark outside.
You come home with the kids and all you want to do is snuggle on the couch.
Snuggling in winter may be fun (and I’m not going to say you shouldn’t snuggle) but your kids need something more. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), kids need at least 1 hour of physical activity—every day. And depending on your children’s school program and sports activities, they may not even get close.
There are many benefits. Exercise helps kids feel less stressed, have higher self-esteem, focus at school, sleep better and maintain a healthy weight. You’ve probably noticed that parenting children who get enough exercise is also easier than parenting those who don’t.
Winter is a time for yin activities. It’s healthy to be introspective and quiet. However, children need physical activity—even in the winter.
But on a cold, dark day, how do you get your kids to exercise?
The first strategy is to get physical activity at home. Walk the dog or shovel the snow. Race around the house. Go outside and play snowball basketball.
Young children may enjoy creative home exercise. Try playing “rock, paper, scissors” with your legs. Do sun salutations together. See who can walk upstairs backward the fastest.
When you spend time at home, keep moving. Take breaks every hour and do jumping jacks. Play exercise workout games, like Dance Dance Revolution. Do push-ups, sit-ups and squats. Use commercial breaks to challenge each other to a dance contest. Even jump-roping in the basement is a good exercise option.
The winter is full of outdoor exercise for kids. Sledding, skiing, skating are just a few options. Try making the same activities interesting by changing them slightly. Sled down a hill on an inner tube or cafeteria tray instead of a sled. Go skating on a lake instead of at a rink.
When you enjoy an activity that doesn’t require a lot of physical exertion, think of ways to make it vigorous. For example, walk across a field to watch the Northern Lights. Walk to the video store instead of driving. Look for ways to build exercise into your normal activities.
Kids’ Exercise Programs
There are many exercise classes for kids. Most cities have traditional options—sports leagues, gymnastics, dance studios or even a local YMCA. But now many cities have even more opportunities for children. There are yoga classes, Zumba, wall climbing, in-line skating, skate boarding and boot camps. Your child can train for marathons, triathlons and other endurance events. Some cities even have parkour gyms—a gym where kids half run and half fly, propelling themselves off the obstacles in their way.
If just reading this list of activities makes you feel exhausted, you may need an acupuncture “tune-up.” Sometimes inactivity is more than just a reaction to the dark winter season. If you feel lethargic, you’ll have an even harder time getting your children to move.
Give me a call and I’ll help you and your children feel ready to keep moving in the winter.
Yoga, Yoga Everywhere
There are over 40 different styles of yoga taught in the United States. All of the types of yoga overlap and have a common goal – the union of mind, body and spirit. Each style of yoga is distinguished by particular practices.
Some types of yoga are quite physical, building strength and flexibility, while others are restorative and meditative. Below is a short list of a few styles of yoga.
Which one is right for you?
Ashtanga yoga – Developed in 1937 by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. This style of yoga focuses upon building strength and heat in the body. It provides a fast-paced, and sometimes intense, workout through a series of challenging poses that are taught in a sequential order.
Bikram yoga – Be prepared to sweat. Bikram is performed in a room heated to about 100 degrees. This yoga consists of 26 poses that are repeated twice in the same order. The intense workout warms the body and muscles and increases flexibility. Bring plenty of water, a towel and possibly a change of clothes.
Iyengar Yoga – B.K.S. Iyengar developed this style of yoga in 1937. It is focused upon the correct alignment of the body in all poses which may be held for up to five minutes or more, in order to correct alignment and posture. Iyengar will build, strength, endurance and flexibility. The classes may also use props, such as, straps, blocks and blankets to get the body into the perfect pose.
Kundalini yoga – This ancient style of yoga has been practiced in India for centuries. It came to the United States in 1969 by Yogi Bhajan. Kundalini yoga incorporates breathing exercises, chanting, meditation and yoga poses designed to stimulate the nervous system and meridian organ systems in order to free up blocked energy.
Acu yoga – Acu-Yoga is a practical yoga method that can release blocked Qi energy by applying acupressure to specific points upon the body. Acu-Yoga increases the circulation of Qi flowing throughout the body in order to balance and strengthen overall health. This style of yoga incorporates yoga poses, breathing techniques, meditation and acupressure.
Winter Health Foods
During the winter it is healthy to cook with “warming foods.” The weather is cooler, and your body needs to generate extra warmth in order to keep it functioning optimally.
Winter foods usually require a bit more preparation. These foods should be cooked longer and slower so they can provide you with meals that will keep you warmer. This is the time of year to stoke your inner fire, avoid raw foods, like salads and cold drinks, as these will cool your digestive function.
The winter diet should be made up of complex carbohydrates from whole grains, squash and root veggies, such as carrots, beets, turnips, potatoes, onions and garlic.
Thick and hearty soups and stews are especially good this time of year. They are nutritious, warming, easy to digest, and your home will smell wonderfully inviting.
Spice up your meals with a little ginger, a dash of cayenne, or garlic. These will add heat to your meals and warmth down to your toes
Stay in tip-top shape!
Here are a few easy pointers on how you can support and promote your own health this time of year:
Early to bed, early to rise, makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise. Go to bed early and if possible, wake up after the sun appears in the morning. Extra sleep will also benefit you if feel as though you are coming down with something. If you do become ill, naps may help you recover faster.
Load up on Vitamin C and other multivitamins. These can help support your health.
Surround yourself with friends and family. If you can gather around a fire, all the merrier.
Water, water everywhere.
Drink water. Every cell of your body requires this liquid gold to keep it lubricated and running smoothly.
Avoid the consumption of ice cream and iced beverages. If possible, drink liquids at room temperature. Too many colds foods, especially during the colder months, can disrupt your digestion.
Try to avoid it as much as possible. If you can’t, adopt habits that will enable you to de-stress, such as meditation, yoga, dance, reading, acupuncture, or painting.
You have heard it a thousand times, exercise, exercise, exercise. There is no substitute for the health-promoting benefits of this easy task. Get up to 20 minutes of heart pumping exercise daily.
Take Chinese herbs that support the immune function.
Astragalus, Osha root, Reishi and Shitake mushrooms are helpful. These have been used for thousands of years by Chinese herbalists to keep people healthy and strong.
Come in for acupuncture treatments.
Chinese medicine and acupuncture works extremely well when you have a cold, and also as a tune up to stimulate the healing capacity of your body. If you begin to get the sniffles, body chills, or feel under the weather, give us a call, we may be able to help!
The season of change is finally here and heaven knows no one appreciates like Melbournians, I think it’s actually the reason we stay so cheery during the winter now, there a couple of things that we get as a bonus to the feeling of sun on our face and If I warn you about it now, maybe you can enjoy the change!
With the sun we also get…
Wind, not so affectionately referred to in Chinese Medicine as the “bearer of a hundred diseases…” demands particular respect in early spring because our protective energy, like the rest of us, is usually a little weak after winter. So,
• leave your winter clothes on until well past the start of the warmer weather because the sun is out well before our environment is warm,
• carry a scarf or wear a collar so you can cover your neck on windy days, it’s the area most susceptible to “wind invasion”,
• if you have a history of health problems in Spring it is much easier for us to treat them before the symptoms come,
And yes, I’m talking about hay fever, and asthma, and eczema or any other skin problems because it’s the skin and the Lungs that often show the first signs of an “external wind invasion”.
“Stirring internal wind” is another risk of windy weather; ask the school teachers what happens to the children on windy days! Now adults are also affected, so symptoms related to the Liver function in Chinese Medicine may arise for example, insomnia, trembling hands, vertigo, migraines, some arthritic conditions and mood swings to name a few.
We can give you herbal medicine; there are many pre-made formulas at the clinic to relieve pain from the sinus to the knees! And for you really tough cases out there, and this hay fever season is going to provide us with many, we can make you a custom formula specific to your individual requirements to give you the best possible chance of enjoying the weather?
Some more about Hay fever; it’s a hypersensitivity reaction of our immune system to air-borne substances like pollen, dust, moulds, plants and chemicals. It is medically known as allergic rhinitis and consists primarily of runny nose, and blocked at the same time (about annoying a symptom as possible), sneezing and itchy red eyes.
Many of these allergens may also be triggers for asthmatics and these symptoms can quickly develop into an infection of the respiratory tract.
Allergies can run in families so if you suffer your children may also. The above air-borne substances are allergens that can cause the body to produce antibodies that release histamine. Histamines can cause the allergic reaction.
Avoiding allergens can keep the symptoms at bay. (But who wants to stay inside when the sun is finally here?) Conventional therapies call for antihistamines, decongestants, oral steroids, corticosteroid sprays & bronchodilator inhaler (for asthma), and allergy injections. But using Chinese medicine may be all you need to relieve the symptoms and if you start treatment in the off season, can treat the underlying imbalances that cause the allergies in the first place!
So use preventative medicine in spring and get in before the symptoms come!