Stay Healthy During the Southeast Alaska Winter

Southeast Alaska boasts the mildest weather in the entire state. That’s not to say, however, that it doesn’t get cold during the winter, with average daily temperatures throughout the Southeast hovering around freezing from November through March. Here are some innovative ways for Southeast Alaskans to stay healthy during the winter.

winter walkers

Don’t sit around

It can be tempting during the winter months in Alaska to cuddle up with a blanket, Netflix, and some hot cocoa. It’s important to mix things up, though, as adults need to move more and sit less throughout the day. In order to get significant health benefits, adults should participate in moderate physical activity for at least 150 to 300 minutes per week. “We need 30 minutes a day to really help our heart, protect us, and prevent us from becoming unhealthy,” Dr. Jacob Kelly said during a television interview with Anchorage-based KTUU ahead of a 2018 heart walk. It’s also important to include strength training activities in your routine at least twice a week, though this doesn’t necessarily have to be pumping iron.

Exercise incrementally

Physical activity doesn’t have to be just going to the gym, nor does it have to be formal exercise like running or biking. Instead, Dr. Kelly explained, exercise in Alaska can be done incrementally.

“When walking around the grocery store, go ahead and take a few more laps,” he advised. He also recommends taking the stairs at work, going for walks at the mall, etc. “It’s really just about getting moving, adding it up all throughout the day,” headded.

Fight seasonal depression

Seasonal Affective Disorder is no joke in Alaska. With the sun barely up for several months, residents are at heightened risk for depression. Artificial sunlight lamps, purchasable online, can be useful for giving people the light they need to keep their mood up during the winter.

Exercise can also improve overall mood and reduce stress and depression. Women in particular show a reduction in feelings of depression and an improvement in positive moods compared to women who hadn’t exercised. Exercise helps ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins and taking your mind off worries or stressors. In addition, physical activity can help you gain confidence, obtain positive social interactions with peers, and cope with stress in a healthy way.

Exercise to help your brain

Some benefits of physical activity can occur immediately after a period of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, including improved cognitive function, reduced short-term feelings of anxiety and improved sleep.

Regular physical activity can also result in long-term benefits to brain health. Individuals who habitually participate in physical activity have reduced risk of dementia and reduced risk of depression or long-term feelings of anxiety.

Enjoy the benefits of exercise all winter long

One of the best things someone can do for their health is physical activity. Physical activity has many benefits, including:

  • Lowering the risk of stroke and high blood pressure
  • Improving mental health and cognitive function
  • Reducing arthritis symptoms
  • Preventing weight gain

Despite all these wonderful benefits, only half of adults in the U.S. get the physical activity they need. But it’s not too hard for Southeast Alaskans to buck the trend and to enjoy happy, healthy winters.

##

Was this article helpful?

Let us know what you think about Health Promotion content. Email us at healthpromotion@searhc.org

To learn more about our Health Promotion programs, call us at 907.966.8936

The SEARHC Crisis Help Line, 1.877.294.0074, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to residents of Southeast Alaska.