How to Prevent Winter Weight Gain
Whether you are a senior or a caregiver for one, you might find the winter months a tough time of year to manage your weight. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University say people gain an average of 5 to 7 pounds during winter months. For adults with chronic health conditions like heart disease or diabetes, that kind of weight gain can be dangerous.
Why does winter cause extra pounds to creep up on the scale?
For some, it is overindulging in comfort foods. They taste and smell good when the weather outside is frightful. Unfortunately, few comfort foods are healthy. Most tend to be high in fat and calories, making them tough on the waistline.
Another reason for winter weight gain is reluctance—or even difficulty—getting outdoors for a walk or a trip to a senior center fitness class. Being stuck indoors can lead to more sedentary days, a contributing factor to weight gain and obesity.
If you are trying to avoid gaining weight this winter, we have some suggestions you might find helpful.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight during the Winter
- Tackle a new hobby: Fight the boredom that sometimes contributes to winter weight gain by tackling a new hobby. Watercolor painting, scrapbooking, and genealogy are interesting hobbies that you can pursue indoors.
- Plan healthy menus: Taking time to plan a week’s worth of healthy meals and snacks is another way you can fight winter weight gain. You might want to prepare and freeze meals in batches. You’ll be less tempted to rely on fast food or convenience foods if you have healthy options to reach for instead. Consider trying these 15 easy recipes designed to meet the unique nutritional needs of older adults.
- Invest in a fitness device: Monitor your activity by investing in a wearable fitness device. They log how many steps you take each day so you can increase your activity level, even if just by making more trips up and down your hallway or around the living room. Some devices also sound an alert if you’ve been sitting still too long.
- Exercise in your living room: While you might not find it as enjoyable, trying fitness activities you can do in the comfort of your living room can help avoid weight gain. Chair yoga, walking on a treadmill, and cycling on a recumbent bike are a few. Go4Life, a fitness program developed by the National Institute on Aging at NIH, is another option. The site has resources ranging from workout videos to nutrition tips designed with older adults’ health in mind.
- Nurture the spirit: The winter blues can also contribute to weight gain. Taking time to nurture your spirit and prevent the blues may help you avoid winter weight gain. Staying connected with friends and loved ones, whether by phone or in-person, can help. If you find yourself unable to beat the blues, talk with a physician. You might be experiencing a more serious condition known as seasonal affective disorder.
If you are willing and able to brave the cold, we have a few ideas for you. Read this article to learn about five winter activities that can help you enjoy the fresh air while burning extra calories.