Health & Wellness Articles

5 Secrets to Winter Health and Energy

Stay Healthy and Happy to Weather the Season

My monthly weight loss support group sat around looking rather dismal at the first meeting following an unexpected autumn snowstorm.  Winter was arriving sooner than anticipated, and my group voiced worrying thoughts about how they'd stay happy, healthy and energized—and continue losing weight—through the colder months.
Unless you live in an area that has a warm climate all year long, there is a good chance that you also face some health concerns and challenges during the winter months. The abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables during the warmer months make eating healthy easy and delicious. In the heat of the summer, we just don't want to eat hot, heavy foods or turn on the oven to bake cookies or cakes.  When winter rolls around, comfort foods, many of which are high in calories and fat, tend to come calling for us. Not to mention the myriad of food-centric holidays and festivities that take place from Halloween through Valentine's Day! Couple that with the thicker, baggier and body-hiding clothing in winter and it's no wonder that our motivation to exercise and eat healthy is higher during the warmer months of the year.
Warmth and sunshine are certainly more inviting for outdoor exercise than darkness, cold, snow and ice.  Cold temperatures and shorter days with less light drain your energy, leaving you feeling lethargic and even mildly depressed.  Individuals who notice these changes year after year when winter creeps in may even be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Once looked upon skeptically by the medical community, it is now a recognized disorder. Dr. Richard Friedman, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, estimates that 9.7% of the population in New Hampshire suffer from SAD (compare that to his estimate of just 1.4% of the population in sunny Florida). 
Taking all of these factors into consideration, it's no wonder my clients were concerned.  I did my best to reassure them, as I want to do for you.  Regardless of whether you actually have SAD, or just notice yourself feeling sluggish during the winter season, there are many things you can do to alleviate or prevent the winter blues and stay healthy and happy despite the weather outside.
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About The Author

Ellen Goldman Ellen Goldman
Ellen founded EnerG Coaching, LLC to help individuals struggling with health issues that can be impacted by positive lifestyle change, such as weight loss, stress management, exercise, and life/work balance. As a professional wellness coach and certified personal trainer, Ellen holds a BS and Masters in Physical Education and is certified by ACSM, AFAA, and Wellcoaches Corporation. Visit her at Get her complimentary report, 52 Tips, Tools & Tricks to Permanent Weight Loss Without Going on a Diet, at

Member Comments

    Its definitely summer here?.. - 6/16/2015 11:14:41 AM
  • Great article and thanks for saying it is okay to curl up and read a book! - 2/15/2015 12:08:23 PM
  • I absolutely loathe the cold. Winter for me is the worst ever! I moved to Sacramento this last may, I was hoping that the cold would never find me again, I was very very wrong. Although it is not as cold as Seattle, it is still too cold for me! As a cyclist this is my biggest hurdle, to get up and bundle up to bike takes every ounce of energy just to get started. Once I get out there and warm up my joints a bit, I am fine and I do love that it does warm up during the day, just the evening and the mornings are cold. I really wish I did not hate the cold so bad, but I always have. I would make a terrible Tibetan! - 11/25/2014 12:36:03 PM
  • Martial arts work really well inside. All you need is a little floor space. A dummy and a baseball bat can do wonders for your mood, especially if you can paint the dummy to look like your boss. Or maybe your boss already looks like a dummy... - 2/1/2014 7:03:38 PM
  • Maybe it's just because I am getting older that even winter goes by fast, but I have also incorporated many of the above suggestions. I am a nurse in a family practice office and see a lot of illness but am seldom Iill myself which I attribute to lots of exercise and sweating during spin class, getting outside for exercise on my days off, eating lots of fruits and veggies (and adding grapefruit if I think I may be coming down with something) - 1/18/2014 12:15:04 PM
  • grammar police: its 'myriad food-centric holidays' not 'myriad OF'. Now i'm done being a jerk and I'll move on :D - 1/17/2014 3:24:52 PM
  • I love winter and go out in the snow all the time....and find myself getting sick less often than other adults. I don't use winter as an excuse to not be outside and I always make sure I'm drinking enough and eating a lot of citrus. I've had the flu about four times in my thirty years and have never had a flu shot.

    I definitely don't have SAD. I find summer far more depressing because I hate going out in the heat and am stuck inside on any 90F + days (thankfully that's not all of them here). I try to spend as much of summer as possible in the water..... - 1/17/2014 1:03:21 PM
  • Thanks for sharing - 12/29/2013 6:23:06 AM
    Oh yeah, that was a problem when I lived in Seattle for sure.
    Since I moved back to No. California it rains a lot but after the monsoon it gets gorgeous and sunny for a few days. Even on the beach!
    Good suggestions! - 2/4/2013 3:10:27 PM
  • Luckily I don't think I have any issues with SAD. I do have depression, but I don't really feel like the depression gets worse in the winter time - 2/4/2013 1:09:08 PM
  • Wow! What a great article!

    The sentence How about we slow down our crazy life of always needing to be doing something "productive" and engage in some fun and meaningful activities? really spoke to me because I am always doing something - laundry, cooking, cleaning.

    I need to engage in some fun and meaningful activities and be less productive! I give myself permission! - 2/4/2013 11:05:14 AM
  • Skijor! - 2/4/2013 10:27:43 AM
  • KEEPFIT2013
    Thanks for the tips. I just recently went cross country skiing with my daughter after many years (since the kids left home) and realized how energizing and invigorating this is. We don't always have snow here on the coast but my work is taking me further afield so I look forward to more fun in the snow!!
    I also agree that Vitamin D is important and getting out in the daylight for my walks. Lunch hour is a good time so I am making this a priority.
    Thanks again! - 2/4/2013 10:27:28 AM
    Great tips!! I have also found that maintaining higher levels of Vitamin D through supplementation helps me avoid the winter doldrums. I live in Illinois and we have one gray day after another so there little to no opportunity to get Vitamin D from sunlight. You can have your doctor check your level with a simple blood test and then determine how much you need to take. Keeping Vitamin D levels up can have a positive impact on your mood and your immune system. - 2/4/2013 10:11:48 AM
  • I never realized how much sunlight affected me until I moved to Texas from Ohio. When I was there, I felt like I was on a permanent high because of all the sunlight! Then, when I moved to Rhode Island, I was really worried that I wouldn't be able to handle the winters. Turns out this area is almost as sunny as Texas is, so even though it's cold, I can enjoy it because of the sun.

    Unfortunately, I busted up my foot doing too much exercise (!!) and now I can't go out and enjoy the snow and the mountains and learn how to snowboard with my husband. I used to love skiing as a kid, but since he doesn't know how to do either, I figured we could learn snowboarding together since we'd both be new. But now I can't do that, and it's depressing me! I want nothing more than to go sledding on fresh snow or sliding down a mountain with something strapped to my feet! - 1/23/2012 4:53:29 PM

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