For most of the country, winter temperatures are setting in. When the weather turns cold, your health can be negatively influenced, so it’s important to do everything you can to stay healthy despite the chill. We’re sharing six precautionary steps you can take to avoid sickness or injury this winter.
1. Eat for health
What you eat, or avoid eating, can affect your health – this is true no matter the time of year. But, in the winter we often opt for warm comfort foods that aren’t necessarily full of nutrients. While it’s fine to indulge in moderation, it’s important to seek out healthy choices on a regular basis. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables in abundance in the winter, like pomegranates, kale, grapefruit, potatoes, and winter squash. The more you can make your own meals, the healthier they will be. Take advantage of the cool weather and stay inside and cook meals in large batches – and freeze them to enjoy all season long.
2. Embrace good hygiene
Data from the Naval Health Research Center showed a 45% decrease in respiratory illness simply by having recruits wash their hands five times a day. In addition to increased handwashing, you might want to consider keeping some hand sanitizer with you. Research from Boston’s Children's Hospital revealed that those who used hand sanitizer regularly saw a 59% reduction in stomach bugs compared to those who didn’t.
Since cold and flu germs pass easily, winter is a good time to avoid touching communal objects when you can – or washing your hands immediately after contact.
3. Get a flu shot
Winter is often peak season for the flu. It’s not too late to get your flu shot, if you haven’t already. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for anyone six months of age or older. Not convinced? Read our five reasons to get a flu shot for more.
If you feel the aches and fatigue of a flu creeping up on you, talk to your doctor about an antiviral medication, such as Relenza or Tamiflu, which can work against the flu if taken within 48 hours of exposure. Of course, don’t forget to save on your prescription by using the Free FamilyWize Prescription Savings Card, available here.
4. Get enough sleep
A study from The University of Chicago showed that participants who slept only four hours a night for one week dropped their bodies’ flu-fighting antibodies by 50% compared with those who slept more than seven hours. Try to aim for at least six hours of sleep a night – and more if you can. A rested body can more effectively fight off disease.
5. Avoid crowds
When the flu is rampant in your community, it’s best to avoid crowds, where handshakes and sneezes can easily affect you. You don’t need to stay home all winter, but be mindful of what is currently “going around” in your community and act accordingly. If you do go out, remember to wash your hands!
6. Stay fit in spite of the cold
Regular exercise equates to staying healthier. While your favorite warm weather activity may not be fun or safe in cold weather, you can still keep fit with cold weather sports, such as sledding or ice skating. Not fond of the cold? Join an indoor team sport or start a membership at the gym, where you can take advantage of their equipment and class offerings. Another option is to try a brisk walk around the mall.
If frigid or inclement weather makes it hard to go anywhere, let your home be your gym. While you can buy more expensive equipment, you can also stick with the basics, like a jump rope or affordable dumbbells and a mat. Workout videos are also a great way to get your sweat on at home!
For many people, cold weather can feel like a burden, especially with the lack of sunlight. Do everything you can to stay healthy by eating right, exercising, getting plenty of sleep, washing your hands, and doing everything you can to avoid places where illness is spreading. In just a few months, the warmer weather will return!