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Take action this autumn

YOU DON’T HAVE to wait until New Year’s Day to adopt healthy habits. This fall, plan ahead for the best approaches to exercising consistently during the winter and for planning smart, healthy meals.


Do not let cold temperatures force you into hibernation. “With proper precautions, you can still take your exercise outdoors,” says Jen Vaughan, Cardiac Rehabilitation Educator and Nurse Educator at HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s hospitals. “In lower temperatures and decreased humidity, you may even be able to work out for longer durations.”

Consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. If you don’t have a doctor, visit or to find one near you.

Popular outdoor exercise options include walking, jogging or running, hiking, skiing, or ice skating.

Prepare to exercise outdoors in cold weather by dressing in moisture-wicking layers, drinking plenty of fluids (because breathing dry, cold winter air contributes to dehydration), and pacing yourself. If you notice any signs of hypothermia— examples are decreased coordination, confusion, or slow reaction time—head inside.

You can always work out indoors if the temperature drops too low. Yoga, strength training, and exercise classes are all popular, fun options.


Cold weather makes hearty, warm comfort food all the more tempting. You can get that comfort-food feeling with healthy options by including lots of whole grains and root vegetables when planning your meals.

Out of recipe ideas? Try these seasonal favorites:

• Breakfast—Multi-grain oatmeal

• Lunch—Vegetable soup made in a slow-cooker

• Dinner—Stir-fry featuring your favorite protein, vegetables, and grains

Consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. If you don’t have a doctor, visit or to find one near you.

Keep Your Heart Young

You know exercise helps your heart. But did you know specific exercise methods can actually help your heart behave like it

is years younger? A study published in the journal Circulation recently found that four or more days of exercise per week— specifically moderate- to high-intensity exercise—kickstarts your body’s production of new heart muscle cells. Patients involved in the study had dramatically better heart health. Their heart muscle was more flexible, and they processed oxygen better.

The type of exercise used in the study involves pushing yourself to reach maximum effort for four-minute intervals, followed by three minutes of recovery. You do this four times. It’s very similar to high-intensity interval training workouts offered at gyms and sports clubs, usually with a wide variety of activity types. Chances are good you can find something you’ll love.

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