Leading a healthy lifestyle is important all year round, but the colder months can often make it more difficult to keep well. Making simple adjustments to your daily routine however can make it easier to stay healthy, helping to protect your body from winter ailments such as the common cold or the flu. This winter we will also need to live with coronavirus, which we know can have more of an impact the older we are.
The good news is there are lots of things we can do to help keep well in winter.
1. Get a good nights sleep
As many people succumb to coughs and colds during winter, it’s important to help your body fight infection. Sleep helps your body to repair itself so aim for around 6-9 hours sleep, as too little sleep can lower the amount of immune cells we have available to fight off infection.
If you have trouble sleeping at night, avoid heavy meals and too many fluids late at night and try switching to caffeine free drinks, for a few hours before bed. Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool, take a warm bath, read, or listen to soothing music to unwind, and turn off screens at least one hour before bedtime.
2. Remember your greens
Green leafy vegetables are packed with vitamins A, C, E and iron all of which support the immune system. Having a diet which is rich in the nutrients that support immune cells to function efficiently enables our bodies to initiate an effective response against infections. Other nutrients which can help support immunity include zinc and selenium.
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important to maintain a healthy body as well as boosting your mood. However in winter your body does not synthesize Vitamin D from the sun due to the Zenith factor. Try including Vitamin D supplements and eating oily fish such as salmon, herring and sardines which are all naturally high in vitamin D.
4. Exercise Regularly
Being physically active not only benefits our physical health, but also our mental health. This help us to manage stress, which otherwise can result in the release of a hormone that suppresses our immune response. Many people are having to spend more time at home than they normally would due to coronavirus restrictions. This can make it harder to stay active and have an effect on our motivation. Public Health England have put together a guide to being active at home with some very simple strength and aerobic exercises with instructions on how to do them including:
By keeping warm, you can help yourself stay well this winter. It’s important to stay protected against a drop in
temperature as cold weather can affect your body’s ability to fight off viruses and infections.
- Up your intake of hot drinks, such as tea and coffee, but to avoid consuming to much caffeine try replacing one or
- two of these a day with caffeine free drinks
- Wear plenty of thin layers rather than one thick one
- Put on a coat, hat, scarf, gloves and warm shoes or boots when you go outside
- Wear clothes made of wool or fleecy synthetic fibres (cotton is only effective if the garment stays dry)
- Wearing bed socks and thermal underwear at night
- Heat your main living room to around 18-21ºC and the rest of the house to at least 16ºC. If you can’t heat all your
- rooms, make sure you keep your living room warm throughout the day and heat your bedroom before going to bed
- A balanced diet will help keep you warm and healthy in the winter. Make sure you and your family eat at least one
- hot meal a day like soup which is nutritious, keeps you warm and is inexpensive to make or buy.
6. Don’t forget to wash your hands!
Germs are often spread through physical contact, keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your bag or at your desk and use it
7. Get the Flu jab
The flu vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine. It’s offered every year on the NHS to help protect people at risk of flu and its complications.
Flu vaccination is important because:
- if you’re at higher risk from coronavirus, you’re also more at risk of problems from flu
- if you get flu and coronavirus at the same time, research shows you’re more likely to be seriously ill
- it will help to reduce pressure on the NHS and social care staff who may be dealing with coronavirus
If you’ve had COVID-19, it’s safe to have the flu vaccine. It’ll be effective at helping to prevent flu.
Visit the NHS.UK for more information on keeping well this winter.