Last updated: Oct 22, 2009

healthy-snack
Josh Rutledge
Lower temperatures and stressful holidays can present a host of challenges to your health. Read on to learn how to handle everything from travel aches to cold-weather blues.


Dance away the blues
Short days and frigid temps turn you crabby. But a good workout (and that includes boogying to your favorite tunes) can hike feel-good endorphins. In fact, studies show that music activates parts of the brain linked to happiness. Here, more ways to cheer up (without going outside):

  • Phone a friend. Feeling that strong emotional bond may raise your levels of progesterone, a mood-boosting, stress-reducing hormone.


  • Have sex. Estrogen and prostaglandins in semen may ease feelings of depression, a State University of New York study says.


  • Cue a comedy. Just anticipating how much youll laugh while watching a funny movie is enough to boost endorphins.



  • When PMS strikes, satisfy your sweet and salty cravings with this healthy Happy Trails Mix from Health nutrition guru Frances Largeman-Roth, RD. One 250-calorie serving is big on appetite-busting fiber and protein, as well as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B6—all thought to ease symptoms like bloating, breast pain, and mood swings.

    Happy Trails Mix
    Makes: 4 servings

    3/4 cups almonds
    1 1/2 cups fortified whole-grain cereal (such as Total)
    3/4 cups freeze-dried banana slices
    4 teaspoons dark chocolate chips

    Combine all ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Divide into 4 portions and package into 4 small zip-top bags or airtight containers. Can be stored for up to 2 weeks.

    Stretch out those travel kinks
    Cramped airplane seats and long car rides can leave you feeling achy, irritated, and all stopped up. Fight back, says exercise physiologist Michele Olson, PhD, with these simple stretches.


    • Knee hugs: While seated, bring right knee up toward chest, wrap arms around it; hold for 5 counts. Repeat with left leg.


  • Shoulder shrugs: Move them up and down 10 times.


  • Deep breaths: Sit up straight and put hands behind head. This opens the chest and makes it easier to take a few deep breaths.


  • Neck Twists: Rotate head to right, look over shoulder, and hold for a count of 5. Do same over left shoulder. Repeat 5 times on each side.



  • Painkiller warning just for women
    Scary news: Johns Hopkins University reports that deaths from prescription-painkiller poisoning more than tripled among women ages 45 to 64 in a recent six-year period. Before you use hydrocodone (Vicodin) or acetaminophen-and-codeine combos, talk to your doc about overdose risks and the dangers of drug interactions and taking more than one med at a time.

    Our holiday eco-move
    Christmas lights made with light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are 90% more energy-efficient than incandescent lights.

    Flat-belly workout wear
    Research shows that youll be more motivated to work out if you look good doing it. Enter the Keen top from Cirqulate ($64, available in five flattering hues). An elastic mesh lining smoothes and holds in a saggy tummy, while two-tone side panels give the appearance of a smaller waist.