The festive holiday season usually brings eggnog, cookies, candy canes and stuffing with extra gravy. For many of us that all adds up to winter weight gain. If you need to lose weight or are looking for ways to prevent that winter weight gain, it’s best to start by evaluating the types of food in your kitchen and the amount of time you spend sitting rather than getting up and moving around.

Evaluating the types of foods that are in your kitchen is an important first step to making changes. Take time to separate snack items into one location, sugar sweetened beverages into another location and boxed/bagged convenience foods (such as cold cereal, macaroni and cheese, frozen dinners, chicken nuggets, hamburger helper) into a third area. Stand back and look at the remaining food in your kitchen. Are there fruits and vegetables, whole grain products like oats and rice, eggs, spices and low-fat protein choices like chicken breasts and tuna? Whole food choices such as these should be staple ingredients in everyone’s kitchen.

Did you know that middle-aged and older adults are among the most physically inactive age groups in the country? According to the Center for Disease Control about 27% of adults aged 45-64 and 39% of adults aged 65 or older are inactive. Regular physical activity can help lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers. Physical activity can also help control weight, improve sleep and, for older adults, help maintain independence, reduce the risk of falling down and delay the start of mental decline.

Are you looking for ways to increase your physical activity? Many people looking to increase their exercise start by simply walking. Walking is a low-impact exercise that can pay off with big rewards if done consistently. Pick a time of day that you feel the best and that fits into your schedule. Bundle up on those cold days and commit to a distance that is moderately challenging for you. Plan to walk on most days of the week and gradually increase your distance as your confidence grows. Are you already fairly active? Look for ways to increase the amount of time you spend exercising, add some cardio workouts to your routine or began a weight-lifting regimen.

Would you like a little more information? Contact our Health Educators at 740-342-5179. Of course, anyone making a major lifestyle change, should consult with their physician to make sure they have no underlying health conditions.

The Perry County Health Department is working to keep you healthy where you live, work and play. For more information about any program or service offered by the Perry County Health Department or to get vaccinated, contact us at 342-5179, visit us online at www.perrycountyhealth.info and follow us on Facebook.

Questions about the COVID vaccine? Call us at 740-342-5179 to talk with our clinic team. We offer walk-in clinics daily and pediatric walk-ins on Thursday and Friday.

Deborah Raney is the director of health education at the Perry County Health Department and is a weekly contributor to the Perry County Tribune.

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