It’s almost time to fire up the woodstove, furnace, fireplace and your car heater. Grab your hot cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate and enjoy the colder weather.

Don’t forget to fire up your metabolism too. Our metabolism is measured in calories and it converts the food and drink we consume to make energy. Most people know that eating well and exercising helps to improve our metabolism. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), there’s also things we do that hurt our metabolism. Here are a few examples.

Getting too little sleep. Sleep is a very important factor in gaining or losing weight. When we don’t get enough sleep, we produce more cortisol (stress hormone) which can increase our cravings for starchy, sugary and fatty foods. We should try to get 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep every night.

Not eating enough. This is an interesting one because most people reduce their calories when trying to lose weight. But there’s a point when cutting calories too low will make the body go into starvation mode and the metabolism slows down.

Inconsistent eating times. If we eat at inconsistent times of the day and this becomes a pattern, we can confuse our body. Our body burns less calories and more food is put into storage (fat cells) to conserve until the next meal.

Sitting too much. If we exercise one hour a day and sit the other twenty-three hours, our metabolism will slow down. Our body becomes more relaxed and is put into a non-energy burning mode if we sit for longer than 20 minutes.

Not doing strength training. A lot of people just do cardio (aerobic) exercises like walking, running, swimming and biking. Cardio exercises are important because they burn calories, but when the cardio exercise is over, the calorie burn returns to the resting levels. Strength training, on the other hand, will burn calories even after the strengthening exercise is done because the body is working to repair and build the muscles. Include strength, flexibility and balance training with your cardio routine.

What we drink. Not drinking enough water can make us dehydrated and our body will burn fewer calories. Drinking too much alcohol affects our metabolism by causing our liver to focus on breaking down the alcohol instead of burning fat.

Stress. As with getting too little sleep, stress can also increase the levels of cortisol. Too much cortisol can increase our appetite, cause us to eat more comfort foods and decrease our desire for exercise. Stress can slow our digestion, reduce our sleep time and our quality of sleep.

Continue to eat well, sleep well and exercise. Make an effort to improve your metabolism.

Here’s to you continually firing up your metabolism with healthy living.

Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the October 13, 2016 edition of the Seaford Star.