“It is a winter’s walk we take, though our hearts are set on spring,” a former colleague, Carol Ann Morrow, once wrote about the winter months. I’ve never forgotten those words, and this month they ring especially true.
February, weather-wise, can be difficult. The days are cold and short. But that doesn’t mean we should waste them by being idle. While many of us are still coasting on our New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, here are five simple, at-home exercises to keep our hearts and bodies strong.
1. Stretch. Stretching at least twice a day is essential for muscle tone, posture, and nutrient supply to cartilage. Stand up straight and slowly reach down to touch your toes. Without straining, try to reach a bit farther each time.
2. Climb the steps. According to a study by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, stair climbing at work or at home burns around 250 more calories than swimming for the same duration of time. It also improves cardiovascular health.
3. Do spring cleaning in late winter. Sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, and washing windows work several major muscle groups—and your house gets clean in the process. It’s win-win.
4. Use water weights. Fill two plastic milk bottles halfway with water. Lift the bottles up to your shoulder for arm curls or above your head to strengthen shoulders. Increase the amount of water for a greater challenge.
5. Try jumping jacks. Don’t laugh. Jumping jacks offer a full-body workout. Deep breaths while doing them focus on your abdominal region and can strengthen your core.
Tasty (and Healthy) Squash and Apple Dessert
1 acorn squash, halved horizontally, with seeds discarded (you can also use butternut squash)
1 Granny Smith apple (top sliced off, thin, and cored)
1 dash cinnamon
1 or 2 small dashes of nutmeg
1 or 2 cloves
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 pats butter Raisins
- Preheat oven to 350° and place squash—cut side down—in baking dish. Place apple—cut side up—in same baking dish.
- Put cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, and clove into the apple. Pour 1/4” to 1/2” of water in pan. Bake for 60 minutes.
- Pour water out of pan. Use a clean towel or cloth napkin to hold hot squash and hot apple in your hand and scoop out the meat with an ice-cream scoop. Mix together in a bowl. Add brown sugar and butter.
- This recipe will taste a little sweet and a little tart. The more sugar you add, plus a little more butter, the closer to a dessert-like side dish you have. Adjust the ingredients to your family’s tastes.