Health and wellbeing can sometimes be harder to maintain in the winter months. The initial relief after a long period of warm weather quickly disappears and concern sets in as the temperature drops, the days shorten and most West Australians prepare to hibernate.
Still life goes on so whether it’s that co-worker with the sniffles or watching footy in the rain, how do you keep yourself fit and healthy to avoid the dreaded lurgy?
We’ve pulled together five of our favourite ways to help keep you on the wellness path.
1. Preventing colds, flus and infections
Sound like an obvious one but prevention is better than a cure. Take steps to protect yourself from colds, flus and infections this winter season by following some key steps:
- Immunise yourself and family with a flu vaccine. W
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and water
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Avoid close contact with people who have flu like symptoms
If you have flu-like symptoms, you should stay home from work and limit your contact with other people to keep from infecting them.
2. Eat the right food
Nutritional food is the way to go to keep your body fuelled and fighting fit. Eating food high in nutritional value will feed your body the vitamins, rich carbohydrates and fats that give you the sustenance you need to recover more quickly.
It can be tempting to eat more during winter however it is important to maintain a well balanced diet, especially foods that are high in antioxidants, protein, fibre, vitamins B, C, D and E, and low in sugars and fats.
Broccoli, carrots and cauliflower are amazing winter vegetables and versatile for many winter dishes, and a great way to ensure you get those all-important vitamins and minerals.
If you are struggling to incorporate enough in meals, don’t be afraid to juice them – two thirds fruit and one third vegetables is a great mix.
3. Water is Key
Our bodies are 70% water so it makes sense that there is no substitute for water to keep you hydrated, healthy and in the best condition.
Drinking enough water is easier in summer as the hot weather reminds us we are thirsty, whereas we tend to neglect our needs in winter as it is cooler, and we think our body doesn’t need as much.
Dehydration can cause skin problems, like eczema, and are more prevalent in the winter as the wild weather, drop in temperature and indoor heating can dry out our skin. Drinking plenty of water will not only keep your skin healthy, but also flush out the toxins and help ward off viruses.
Ensure you are adequately hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout the day. A good guide is 2.1 litres a day for women and 2.6 litres for men.
4. Stay Active!
Regular exercise is essential for your health regardless of the season. While motivation is a challenge, the long-term benefits gains of exercise outweigh the short-term pain.
By maintaining a regular workout schedule during the colder months, there is a positive, long-term collective effect on your immune response. Not to mention all the usual benefits that exercise brings such as weight control, improved mood, greater muscle strength, delivery oxygen and nutrients to around the body and keeps your blood flowing smoothly.
When exercising outdoors, consider following these rules:
- Warm-up first by performing low-intensity, dynamic movements that are like the exercise you are about to do.
- Layer-up and protect your extremities and skin, preventing heat and moisture loss.
- Dress ‘dry’, not just ‘warm’ – body heat is quickly lost when you get wet.
- Cool down and change out of damp gear as soon as possible – this will reduce muscle soreness and ensure you stay warm.
Whether it is training at the gym or organised sport, or even simply walking around the block or taking the stairs instead of the lift, staying active is essential for keeping your body prepared to fight off colds and viruses this winter.
5. Keep warm and sleep well
Whether you are inside or out, be sure to keep warm. It seems obvious; however, this can be overlooked.
Cold weather is especially dangerous for older people and people with pre-existing or chronic health conditions – including heart conditions or respiratory problems.
Stay warm by:
- having at least one hot meal a day and regular hot drinks;
- keeping your energy levels up by eating regularly;
- wearing several light layers of warm clothes, rather than one chunky layer;
- Ensuring doors are closed and curtains drawn to block draughts.
In addition to keeping warm, ensure you are getting plenty of quality sleep. A lack of sleep can compromise your immune system, so ensure you are catching plenty of z’s.
Also, avoid watching TV or using your phone just before bedtime. A great practice is to turn the lights down low an hour before you sleep to create an environment which boosts your brains production of melatonin – the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle and body clock.