Winter is a beautiful time of year with snow falling and iced over ponds, but the shorter and colder days can often have adverse effects on people’s well being. For many, winter becomes synonymous with colds and flu, unwanted weight gain and a case of the winter blues.
While you may not make it through the entire season without catching a cold, there are many steps you can take to improve your overall health during winter.
Sleeping Well and Staying Active
Since we spend more time indoors with other people in the winter, we increase our chances of exposure to germs. For this reason, it is important to keep our immune systems strong.
Not getting enough sleep, whether for one night or over a period of time, can reduce your immune system’s ability to fight infection. It can also affect your mood and make you more susceptible to the winter doldrums.
Many people tend to exercise less in the winter, especially if they do not participate in winter sports. Regular exercise will both boost your immune system and keep off the extra pounds so many of us pack on when it gets cold outside.
With the right clothing you can continue to enjoy outdoor sports such as walking, running, and biking. Make sure you wear layers to keep warm without trapping in cold sweat. Cotton should be avoided since it absorbs moisture, which will become cold and give you chills.
Getting outdoors offers the benefit of increasing your exposure to sunlight and Vitamin D, which are both highly beneficial to your healthy and sense of wellbeing.
Even if you are not the type to exercise for exercise’s sake, you will find that forcing yourself to get out in the sun will make you feel better. By dressing warmly, you can still enjoy spending time in the yard, at the park or walking around downtown.
Joining a gym – if only for the season –is a great way to get out of the house and stay in shape if you really do not enjoy venturing out into the cold weather. You can also set up a gym in your home or explore aerobic activities that can be done in your living room or basement.
Feeling down or depressed can negatively affect your immune system, so any activity that lifts your spirits and energizes you during the winter months is helpful.
So, join a club, take up a hobby, or just meet up with friends. Whatever you do to prevent yourself from feeling cooped up in the house will improve your overall well being.
A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals will help you stay healthy and fight off potential illness. Many people tend to consume diets rich in fat in cold weather, which causes them to feel sluggish and gain unwanted weight.
Try to increase your intake of whole grains, vegetables and fruits during the winter. Since you will be exposed to the sun less, you will need to consume more Vitamin D rich foods such as milk, salmon, tuna, eggs and cheese.
Soups are a great way to stay both warm and healthy during the winter. You can find many great recipes online suited to your tastes. With the aid of a slow cooker or crock-pot, it can be an easy way to offer you and your family a healthy meal full of immune boosting nutrients.
You may want to consider supplements to help your immune system if your diet does not provide you with all the nutrients your body needs.
Drinking plenty of fluids and keeping your body hydrated is important to good health. However, when it is cold outside, people often do not feel as inclined to consume as many fluids as they do during the hot days of summer. Pay attention to how much water you consume and to increase the amount if it seems insufficient.
Avoiding Winter Injuries
Winter can be long and hard enough without spending it in bed with an injury. To avoid this, be aware of dangerous conditions created by snow and ice. Clear and de-ice your walkways after a storm. When walking elsewhere, be on the lookout for icy patches and never assume that a passage way has been de-iced by storekeepers or your neighbors.
Although it is not always possible, all efforts should be made to avoid driving in slick conditions. If you must drive, make sure you give yourself a lot of extra time and take it slow, pulling over any time visibility becomes limited.
Shoveling is a great workout but can easily result in back injury if not done properly. Performing some stretching exercises as you would before any physical activity is highly recommended. Make sure you employ the proper lifting technique, bending from your knees, not your back.
Winter sports are a frequent source of injuries, especially skiing. Verify that your equipment is in good shape and always wear goggles and a helmet. Your boots should fit properly, and adjusting bindings should be left to professionals. Respect your limits by sticking to the trails marked as appropriate for your level.
Cold and Flu
By making healthy changes in your lifestyle, you will enjoy the winter months more and reduce your chances of getting ill or injured. However, it is pretty difficult to get through the entire winter without catching a cold at some point, especially if you spend a lot of time around children.
You can reduce your chances of infection by washing your hands frequently and avoiding contact with infected individuals. Of course, remembering to get your flu shot will also help.
If you do catch a cold or the flu, much of the tips mentioned above still apply. Get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of liquids, follow a healthy diet rich in vitamins and nutrients, and remember that you will soon be feeling great again.
This resource is only a guide and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or ignore professional medical advice because of something you have read on a website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call a doctor, dial 911 or go directly to a hospital Emergency Room (ER).