Advice on how to stay fit and healthy this winter

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With winter officially here, we are all presented with fresh challenges for staying fit and healthy during the colder months that lie ahead.

Dr Marjorie Gillespie, primary care medical director at Care UK, advises that whilst the short days and longer evenings make most of us want to hibernate for the rest of winter, we need to make sure that we’re looking after ourselves in these colder months to help fight off any winter bugs and blues.

Dr Gillespie said: “Our free winter survival guide offers tips in everything from simple ideas for hot meals and ways to keep the home warm, to thoughts on how to stay as bug-free as possible this winter and tips on beating the winter blues or loneliness.

“After all, wise drivers know they must take extra care in winter with the health of their car because of the danger and aggravation that can be intensified when driving in the snow, rain and ice. However, not everyone treats their own bodies with the same care and attention once we hit the coldest season of the year.”

Here are some extracts from the guide to get through winter not only unscathed but to come out the other side fitter and healthier than before:

  • Sleep is very important for the body. When it’s cold and dark, the temptation to climb into bed earlier seems to grow. That’s because the darker skies are telling us it’s time for bed which kick-starts the hormone production of melatonin, making us sleepy. Take advantage of this and catch up on a bit of missed sleep from sunnier months when we don’t get the seven to nine hours of recommended sleep as we tend to stay up later and get up earlier.
  • Vitamin D is also important. The best source of vitamin D, for healthy bones, comes from sunlight. Wrap up (while keeping some skin exposed without sunscreen or SPF make up), go outside and get those sun rays on your bare skin. Vitamin D supplements and foods like oily fish, red meat, eggs and dairy products, can also help to boost vitamin D intake. Go outside, get those supplements and enjoy that winter sunshine.
  • Going outside is good for vitamin D production, but why else should we venture out? Firstly, it’ll improve your mood to go out with the sun (even when it’s raining – embrace the rain!) Secondly, it’ll warm you up as you get moving and your blood gets pumping. And last but not least, you’ll experience your local world in a whole new light as the area changes during the winter.
  • One of the best ways of staying well during winter is to keep warm, meaning that cold homes have a significant impact on people’s health. Keeping warm during the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression.

Viruses and other illness bugs seem to be everywhere in winter. Our immune systems lag a bit at this time of year meaning it’s not that there are extra bugs around but we’re just more susceptible to catching them. So what else can we do to prevent being ill this winter?

  • Get a flu jab
  • Check you’ve had the pneumococcal vaccine
  • Eat naturally antibacterial foods like honey, garlic and lemon
  • Stock up on everyday medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen
  • Keep your body moving, it will do a world of good for your mind, body and soul

Click here to download a copy of the Care UK Health Care Winter Survival Guide.

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