When the weather turns cold, it seems like a constant battle stays warm, energetic, and healthy. Unlike in the summer months when the sun gives you the inspiration and the energy to get up and get active, the winter turns on the hibernation switch in all of us. If you want to stay healthy but aren’t quite sure how to battle your natural urge to nest, then here are 7 tips on how to fight illness and stay fit this winter.
1. Get more vitamin D
Your body naturally makes vitamin D when you’re exposed to sunlight, but unfortunately even the 20 minutes of sunlight you need a day can be difficult in some winter weeks. This is especially difficult if you have darker skin and therefore find it naturally harder to make vitamin D. If you think you need to up your vitamin D uptake, then take supplements or eat vitamin D rich food like oily fish or eggs.
2. Get your flu vaccination
Depending on where you are in the world, advice varies about whether you should get a flu shot or take your chances. In the USA it is recommended for everybody ages 6 months and up whereas in the UK it is usually limited to so-called risk groups like pregnant women and the elderly. Either way, if you can (or are being expressly told you should) get yourself vaccinated against this year’s strain of influenza, then do it. Not only does it save you the hassle of losing a week to illness but it also means you won’t be at risk of either developing complications yourself or passing it on to a risk-group person who could fare worse.
In most people, the flu is an annoying but harmless illness that will pass within a week. However, if you suffer from Asthma, have a history of respiratory illness, or suffer for other ailments then you are much more likely to develop complications like pneumonia. The flu is actually one of the biggest killers of our elderly, which is why so many governments are exasperated when people ignore their warnings and don’t get the job.
3. Keep active
Nobody really wants to jog in the freezing cold or get up early for the gym when it’s so dark, but it’s important that you don’t slack off from exercising in the winter months. Exercise keeps you strong and alert, two things you desperately need in the winter. If you’re finding it hard to get excited about your usual routine, take up a winter sport like ice skating or hockey!
4. Enjoy seasonal vegetables
Just because it is winter does not mean you should be slacking on getting your 5 fruit and vegetables a day. In fact, there is all the more reason to stock up on vitamins and minerals. You are more likely to fall ill in the winter months, so it is even more important that you give your body all the nutrients it needs. Roast some carrots and parsnips to make a hearty side dish, or throw them into a post and make a warming soup. It’s a great way to stay healthy and eat delicious food all at once.
5. Be weather aware
Winter weather can be fun, but it can also be dangerous if you don’t take precautions. Wear weather-appropriate clothing and always make sure you are wearing a solid pair of shoes. All it takes is one bad fall and you can hurt yourself so badly that you’ll be laid up for the rest of the winter. There is no harm in throwing a few snowballs, but make sure that you and the people around you aren’t taking any risks in the cold.
6. Listen to your body and sleep
Long nights naturally make our bodies want to sleep more, so don’t fight the urge. If you need some extra energy to get through the cold winter days then try sleeping for an hour or two extra night if possible. It truly is amazing how much of a difference consistently getting a good night’s sleep can make to how you feel.
7. Keep your indoors warm but ventilated
Nobody wants to open the windows when it’s freezing outside, but often in the winter, you need to air out rooms to make sure they’re not getting too moist and unhealthy. Recent studies have shown that people who dry their clothes indoors in the winter tend to be more susceptible to illness due to the moist air, so if that sounds like your house open your windows every now and then (but be sure to warm the place back up afterward).