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8 Winter Steps for Healthy Living

Don't hibernate -- take advantage of winter to take stock and improve your health.

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Hibernating may be a natural impulse during the winter months, whether you live in a sub-zero climate or a winter-rainy one. While it's easy to pump the remote instead of weights and to succumb to the allure of comfort food, try a different tactic this winter: Resist the urge to hibernate, take stock, and improve your winter health. Come spring, you'll be happy you did.

To get you launched, WebMD talked to health experts in fields like fitness, stress, vision, oral health, and more. We asked them this: If you could suggest one simple change this season to boost personal health, what would it be? Here are their top tips.

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1. Go Sweet on Your Diet

Ready to do just one thing this winter to spruce up your diet? Incorporate sweet potatoes, which are very much in season. A medium-sized sweet potato has about 100 calories and 4 grams of fiber, along with vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. And it's loaded with beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant.

Sweet potatoes are super simple to fix, too. Wash the potato well, poke it with a fork so it cooks better, wrap it in wax paper, and microwave for about six minutes. Delicious!

2. Take Inventory -- Reduce Stress Long-Term

To improve your stress level, focus on being a "total person." That phrase is an acronym for:

Time Out To Assess Lifestyle -- focusing on Physical health, Emotional health, Recreational status, Spiritual and social health, and Organizational and Nutritional health.

All you do is pick one of those areas to improve. For instance, take charge of emotions by vowing to write down all the negative statements you make so next time you can reframe them into positive ones. Example: "I have to work overtime" becomes "I choose to work overtime so I can get out of debt."

3. Venture Out to Work Out

Break up your indoor workout with outdoor activity. Depending on your location, try snowshoeing, trail walking, or, if you're in warmer climes, hill walking on a golf course or in a park with rain gear. Besides the workout benefit, the outdoors offers you much needed light exposure, giving you not just a workout but a mood boost.

4. On Guard! For Your Teeth

Winter sports may nudge you out of hibernation, but they carry a real risk of tooth trauma if you take a spill when skiing, skating, or boarding.

Consider a sport guard -- a device that looks like a bleaching tray but is thick rubber. Put it over your upper teeth, and there is less risk of breakage -- or big dental bills. Custom-made models are about $75 to $150; over-the-counter, about $10.

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