By Troy Frink at

The holidays are traditionally a time filled with family, friends, and food. It can be easy to give in to temptation, but the winter doesn’t have to be a time when you neglect your health. With a little planning, you can enjoy all of winter’s offerings without going overboard. You can even avoid getting sick! Use these tips to have fun and stay healthy this holiday season.

Exercise Often

When it’s cold outside, it can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise. Jogging may not be an option, and sometimes even going to the gym may seem impossible.

Consider finding a workout buddy to accompany you to the gym. Doing so will keep you accountable, and you may even like having someone to share in your success.

You can also exercise at home, walk around the mall, or take yoga classes. It doesn’t really matter how you exercise, provided your doctor is OK with it. The important thing is to find something you enjoy so that you stick with it.

Make Healthy Food Choices

Many people get derailed over the holidays at social events. Most holiday parties have seemingly endless dessert and cocktail options, and it can be easy to overdo it. 

You may want to keep your calories in check and still have your favorite treats at parties. According to the Pinnacle Health, a great way to calm your carb cravings is to eat a breakfast packed with protein. Doing so will keep your energy levels up throughout the day. 

You can also reach for healthier choices at gatherings. For example, turkey breast is loaded with protein and it’s much lower in fat than your average holiday ham.

Practice Safe Travel Habits

December is a huge travel season whether you’re visiting family for the holidays or heading to the mountains for a ski trip. 

Be careful at airports because germs can spread easily. They spread even easier on planes because everyone on the flight breathes the same air. 

You can help prevent the spread of germs by thoroughly washing your hands before you eat or touch your face. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you should follow these five steps every time you wash your hands:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water ( it can be warm or cold), turn off the faucet, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather your entire hands, including the backs, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. If you’re unsure of how long that is, hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Turn the faucet on again and rinse your hands completely under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or paper towel, or air-dry your hands.

If you’re driving for your holiday travels, be sure to check road conditions before you head out. Check weather forecasts and traffic reports so you’re less likely to be surprised by jammed freeways or inclement weather. Keep a first aid kit, jumper cables, flares, and tools in your car. While you’re on the road, make sure everyone wears their seatbelts and that you can focus on the road without distractions.

Keep the Flu at Bay

The Flu and other illnesses spread easier in cold weather, so you should do everything you can to keep your immune system healthy. Try to keep yourself warm both inside and outside and wash your hands often — especially after you cough or sneeze. If you can’t use soap or water, use hand sanitizer that has at least 60 percent alcohol.

Especially if you’re in public, try to avoid touching your nose, mouth, eyes, and ears. 

Pro tip: you can give your immune system a boost if you eat lots of antioxidant-rich foods such as berries and dark, leafy greens. 

Have Fun This Holiday Season

Winter may be cold and dreary, but it can still be a lot of fun. If you eat healthy, exercise, and travel safely, you can avoid many of the negative things that may be associated with winter, such as getting sick and gaining weight.