Rob Zukowski is a New York State LMT, certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, a Certified Medical Massage Therapist and holds a degree in Occupational Studies, with a focus on massage therapy, from the prestigious Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences. He has advanced training in sports massage, various relaxation therapies, and training in multi-therapeutic approaches to massage for oncology.

In addition to private practice, his experience includes being a massage therapist, lead therapist and member relationships manager in assorted fitness centers, spas, clinics and holistic healing settings and working in corporate wellness environments. Rob also works as a client services manager at a healing center, authors his own column on the subject of complementary and alternative medicine in a national HIV/AIDS magazine, works in student outreach and lectures on therapeutic massage for various pathologies.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Some Winter Cold Tips

My favorite seasons are spring and fall; not too hot and not too cold. With winter here and frigid cold upon us, and not going anywhere soon, I tend to ramp up my vitamin intake as well as change some of my usual habits. 

When in come to vitamins...

Biotin, which is technically classified as vitamin B, is all cosmological. The cold winter air can wreak havoc on skin, hair and nails. Biotin works from the inside and rebuilds from beneath the skin.

If you are like me, the cold weather tends to keep you indoors a bit more than in the milder months. Being cooped up inside can lead to a little bit of cabin fever and cause some brain fog and concentration problems. There is less stimulation when you are staring at the same four walls more often than usual. Fish oil can help clear your head and concentrate better. I use it year round to keep my brain clear and focused for studies.

Vitamin B-12 is awesome. The cold, the darkness and the cloudy winters can lead to depression and anxiety. B12 is one of the first vitamins depleted during times of depression and anxiety. 

I sing the praises of Vitamin D. Since vitamin D is partially relayed through sunlight, northern residents don't get a lot of it in the winter months. I really can’t say enough good things about vitamin D. I take 2000 mg every day, year round, at my doctor’s advice.

It can be found in small amounts in a few foods, but most vitamin D  (they say 80% to 90% of what the body gets) is obtained through exposure to sunlight.

Vitamin D, in part, is used for preventing and treating rickets, weak bones, conditions of the heart and blood vessels (including high blood pressure and high cholesterol). It is also used for diabetes, obesity, muscle weakness, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, bronchitis, premenstrual syndrome and tooth and gum disease. Some people use vitamin D for skin conditions and boosting the immune system, preventing autoimmune diseases and preventing cancer. The list goes on and on if you care to look it up

You may take the train, bus or car instead of your usual walk when the cold weather is upon us. Now, you may not think that riding the rails has all that much of an impact on your exercise, but it does. There is this 10,000 steps a day program that I tend to do in addition to my regular work out. At my last job I traveled from an outer borough into the West Village of Manhattan and I wore a pedometer. By walking to the subway stop that is one stop away from my closets stop, taking the train to 23rd Street instead of Union Square or direct to the West Village, I gave myself a 2.5 mile walk to and from work. That’s 5 miles a day or 25 miles in a work week. In the winter, I went the closest and most direct route which brought me down to a mile a day. That’s 20 less miles of walking per week.

I used this calculator to find measure the caloric difference. With the longer commute I was burning about 3136 calories just by commuting to work. The shorter commute, around 627 calories.

Enter Calcium. If you do not get your usual amount of exercise during the winter months, it can lead to muscle weakening. When our muscles aren't doing what they should as well as the should, more pressure is placed on the bones. Calcium strengthens your bones. 

Vitamin c has been and still remains a staple in the cold/flu season battle. Drink pure fruit juices, many of which contain 100% of your daily vitamin C requirement in a single glass, or look for pill options. Personally, I prefer a liquid or gel or natural source, but something is better than nothing. Just watch your sugar intake with those juices.

Stay hydrated. Most people tend to drink water more during the warmer weather. But, spending more time indoors involves turning up the heat. All that unnatural heating lends itself to dry skin and chapped lips. Hydrate from the inside.

Zinc is the closest you can get to a "quick fix" vitamin during cold and flu season. Not only does Zinc boost your immunity, but it has been proven to shorten a cold when you already have one.

Other Tips:

Make sure to moisturize. It’s critical that people moisturize their skin in the winter months. Sources suggest that applying moisturizer immediately after showering locks in the moisture. With all the products out there, I still rely on Vaseline petroleum jelly, at least for my lips fingers and toes. You can get over the greasiness.

Don’t skimp on the sunscreen. It may be a summertime staple, but sunscreen is essential during cloudless winter days, especially if there’s sun-reflecting snow on the ground.
A long, hot shower feels great in the winter; but soaking in too much hot water can strip your skin of much of its moisture. Go for luke warm.

Crank up the humidity. Room humidifiers can help re-infuse dry, artificially-heated air with some much needed moisture. Yes, humidifiers can be pricey. I often fill a metal pot with water and place it on the radiator to let the water evaporate into the air. If I am feeling all fancy like, I will use a natural eucalyptus, pine or mint oil in the water to help clear clogged nasal passages from winter sniffles.

And finally, a lukewarm bath with oatmeal or baking soda, can help relieve skin that is so dry from the cold that it has become itchy.

As always, these are my opinions from my own research and not medical advice. You should always check with your doctor before taking or increasing vitamin intake, using certain products or changing your diet, exercise and health habits.

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