7 Tips For Staying Healthy This Winter

Thanksgiving is over and the winter months are already upon us. As we move further into December, it becomes even more important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially when we are tempted with all of the holiday treats and delicacies and the snow is falling outside. The wintertime offers the perfect opportunity for you to set new goals for both work and home, and work towards building some healthier habits.

Here are seven tips to help you stay healthy this winter season.

1. Wash your hands

The best way for you to stay healthy during the winter is to make sure you are washing your hands. Even if you are not already in the habit of washing after you use the restroom (which you should be) or before you eat a meal, regularly washing your hands helps keep you from catching winter colds, the flu, pneumonia, and a whole assortment of winter-thriving ailments. Studies have shown that people who wash their hands up to five times a day during the winter are 45% less likely to develop respiratory illnesses than those who do not. Washing with soap and water is the simplest, and one of the most effective ways to keep you from catching germs and pathogens that thrive in heat-conditioned environments during the cold winter months.

2. Maintain a healthy diet

Having a healthy diet is important anytime of the year, but it can be especially helpful during the winter when you are more susceptible to germs. Ensuring you have enough nutrition in your diet is important for maintaining your immune system health. That means eating lots of fruits (yogurt is a great substitute in the winter when fresh fruit is scarce), which are high in vitamins, nutrients, and minerals like Vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Eating meats like poultry and vegetables also ensures you maintain a healthy amount of starch and protein, so be sure to include mashed potatoes as part of your Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

3. Consider taking vitamins

Taking a morning vitamin supplement is another great way to ensure you are maintaining a healthy level through the winter. When the weather is cold, we tend to bundle up and stay inside more often, depriving us of a healthy amount of Vitamin D, which our skin usually absorbs from the sun. With oranges and other fruits becoming scarcer during the winter, getting enough Vitamin C to support your immune system also becomes even more important.

4. Get enough sleep

Just like maintaining a healthy diet, ensuring you get enough sleep is an important part of your health no matter what time of the year it is. During the winter, however, when we are busing stuffing our faces full of holiday treats and oversized turkeys, getting enough sleep becomes even more important. Getting 6-8 hours of sleep each night helps you maintain a healthy weight, improves your memory, keeps you alert, reduces stress, and helps keep you energized.

5. Exercise

I guess exercise would be the third entry on our list of healthy activities you should be doing all year long, but it doesn’t hurt to pick up the habit during the winter months when your body could really do with an immune boost. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy blood pressure level, burns fat, promotes healthy cholesterol levels, and helps to better oxygenate your body and muscles. Studies have shown that even a few hours of moderate exercise, such as taking the stairs or a brisk walk, can reduce your chances of getting a cold by 35%, so when the kids want to go for a sled ride or have a snowball fight, indulge them, if only for your health’s sake.

6. Dress appropriately

Wearing appropriate winter clothing goes a long way in keeping your body healthy against the cold. Multiple layers and longer sleeves help you maintain a normal body temperature, which is necessary for proper bodily functions. Your body is built to naturally react to inadequate temperatures: shivering occurs by way of muscle contractions that stimulate blood flow and increase respiration in order to keep warm blood flowing to the extremities, muscles in the skin trap air in a thin layer in order to insulate your body (goosebumps), and vasoconstriction minimizes heat loss by reducing the amount of blood flow to the colder surface of your skin.

7. Consider the flu shot

Politics aside, getting a flu shot for the winter season is also something to consider, especially if you are older or tend to get sick very easily. Flu vaccinations are said to offer up to 90% protection against infection and the side effects that come with it. The Department of Health recommends that adults over 50 and children ages six months to five years should get a flu vaccination on an annual basis. This is because when you are young, and as you get older, your body becomes more susceptible to infection, making it easier for you to catch a cold or other respiratory infection during the winter. But again, this is only a recommendation and everyone reacts differently to vaccinations, so use your best judgment here.