If you are like many people, Jan. 1 marked the day that you and your family planned to begin eating better and to become more physically active.

However, just thinking about winter brings to mind images of snuggling under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa and not moving until SPRING!

Just because the weather is frigid, doesn’t mean you need to give up your outdoor walking program. If you plan ahead and have the proper clothes and accessories, it can be an invigorating and safe experience. Here are some things to keep in mind:

n Choose a good route. Finding a safe walking route is essential in any season of the year. Those that work well in spring, summer and fall may not work in winter due to snow, ice, sleet, or rain. Learn which sidewalks and parking areas are usually the first to be cleaned after a storm. But remember, if conditions are bad, make the smartest choice – stay home until it is safe to get bundled up and go out.

Wear the right clothing. Walking experts have three recommendations for comfort in cold weather: Dress in layers – several thin layers are better than bulky items. As you warm up while moving, you may want to shed some layers to minimize sweating, which can make you very cold and uncomfortable. Cover your head with a warm hat. Without a head covering, heat is lost and you will feel cold more quickly. Don’t forget to wear gloves or mittens.

Select proper footwear. Sturdy boots or walking shoes with thick soles and deep treads are essential. Make sure your footwear is the right size to fit heavyweight socks or several pairs of socks. You may need slip-on grips if the walking route is snowy or icy.

Walk with a companion. Family, friends and even a dog are all good choices. Walking with family members or friends can provide good conversation and make the time seem shorter. A companion also provides an added safety measure.

Make yourself visible. Drivers may have difficulty seeing you in the winter because of shorter daylight, blowing snow, or glare on sunny days. Bright colored clothing and those with LED lights or reflective tape can add to your safety. On sunny days, be sure to wear sunglasses to decrease the glare. Here is a delicious soup to warm you up after that winter walk.

White Chicken Chili

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 onion, chopped

1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon oil

2 cans (15-1/2 ounces each) white beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14-1/2 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth

2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped mild green chilies

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 cup (8 ounces) low-fat or nonfat sour cream

1/2 cup milk

Heat oil in a large saucepan; sauté the chicken, onion and garlic powder until chicken is no longer pink. Add the beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and milk.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 260 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 6 grams of fiber and 32 grams of carbohydrate.

Recipe from: Oregon State University Extension

Cami Wells is an Extension Educator for Nebraska Extension in Hall County. Contact her at (308) 385-5088 or at cwells2@unl.edu. Visit the Hall County website at www.hall.unl.edu

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