Tips to Keep You Healthy During Winter Training

If March is the month that’s “in like a lion and out like a lamb” what are we supposed to say about February? Other than, “is winter over yet?” With the unpredictability of winter weather in Charlotte, it’s difficult to say whether we’ll be cold or wet or what this month. Still, these winter training tips could help you stay healthy outdoors until Spring.

#1 Sleep well. Ensuring you get a minimum of eight hours sleep (more if you’re one of our pre-DA players) can help your immunity during cold and flu season. It may seem like a great idea to stay up finishing that Harry Potter book you are re-reading, but lack of sleep has a negative impact on your mental health too. 

#2 Eat healthy. We’ve talked before about good fruits and vegetables to have in an athlete’s diet. At this time of year you also want to think about amping up the antioxidants. Colorful foods such as raspberries, blueberries, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, purple potatoes, red cabbage, and red apples” can help boost your immunity. You might also add a bit of dull brownish/white. Mushrooms can help boost protection against colds, according to a Tufts University study exploring the impact of white button mushrooms on immunity.

#3 Stay hydrated. Drinking at least 8 cups of water per day will help any one flush toxins from their body. As a young athlete, you have to pay extra attention to your hydration levels as you are so active.

#4 Avoid germs. Germs are everywhere, so this one is not easy. Since your body is more susceptible to illness in the 24 hours following a hard training session, it’s important to take precautions to avoid getting sick. This includes:

•       washing your hands thoroughly — for at least 30 seconds — before eating and after using the bathroom

•       disinfecting video and TV controllers more consistently

•       changing out your toothbrush if you’ve had a cold or sore throat

•       saying ‘no’ to the sleepover with a kid coughing and getting over the flu.

#5 Find the sun. Absorbing at least 30 minutes of sunlight can help your body and mind. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) sees people experiencing mood swings when the light diminishes in winter. Some people even buy special lamps to simulate the sun and keep their moods on an even keel. Another solution is to take a vitamin supplement. Vitamin D3 has been shown to help reduce your chances of getting the flu by 50%. 

#6 Talk about it. Feeling stressed? Anxious? Tired? Upset? Angry? It can help to talk about it. If you don’t want to share your feelings out loud, try writing them down in a journal or write a letter to someone that you don’t send. Just getting the words out on the page can be a good stress relief.

#7 Dress in layers. Make sure you check weather forecasts before leaving for the pitch. It may have been a warm day during school, but when the sun goes down it can be frigid. You want to take into consideration the windchill too. Wind and cold together = windchill, which can put you at greater risk of frostbite. Getting wet can make you even more susceptible to chill as it will become more difficult to keep your core body temperature up.

Dressing too warmly can be a problem. After all, you’ll be moving around and sweating during a game or training. Perspiring can make it more difficult for you to feel warm as the evaporating sweat pulls heat from your body. Try these layers:

•       A thin, synthetic layer that draws away sweat

•       An insulating fleece or wool layer

•       A waterproof out layer that breathes.

#8 Take care of your skin. With the cold wind outside and the dry heat inside, winter weather is abrasive to skin. Moisturize, and continue to use sunscreen. Soccer players also want to remember to pamper their feet, which could be getting cold and wet during practice.

Obviously, we don’t need to tell our young athletes to get moving to stay fit during the cold weather season. Training is going strong and games have begun. Still, as you come back from a bit of down time, it might help to know that staying active combats stagnation which can lead to more phlegm in the body. 

At the same time, we have had to call off some practices for weather-related reasons. When that happens, you might want to try some of these suggestions for practicing soccer in your bedroom. Stay healthy this season so we can see you out on the pitch!

chris williams