Many people are miserable this winter: feeling lethargic from eating too much junk food, spending too much time in front of screens and catching each cold that comes around. There is a solution to the winter doldrums: more exercise.
The empty calories in junk food don’t provide the nutrition needed for moving large muscles groups and thinking clearly. Too many chips and cookies will make anyone feel like a lump of clay unable to muster the oomph to get going. Thirty minutes of vigorous activity will stimulate the brain chemicals that will improve mood and cognition.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time to no more than one or two hours per day. Watching TV develops an appetite for junk food and many people overeat while watching. Screen time results in sleep loss and irregular sleep patterns; both are associated with fatigue and increased snacking. Excessive screen time leaves less time for active, creative play.
There is evidence that moderate daily activity decreases the incidence of colds. In a group of post-menopausal women, those ladies who exercised five times per week reported one-third fewer colds over one year.
Every member of the family will benefit from limiting “sit time.” In addition to limiting screen time, do something active. Challenge each other to see who can do the most pushups during a commercial break.
Even when stuck at home on a snow day, stick with a routine. Get some exercise. Give food the respect that it deserves. Sit at the table and enjoy your food rather than mindlessly snack at the keyboard. Go to bed at a reasonable hour.
Spring can’t get here fast enough.
Tips to reduce screen time.