Posted on: 23 October 2020
This winter we are all extra aware of the need to take care of our physical wellbeing. Keep yourself and others safe with these five tips to protect your health.
- Flu season
As well as COVID-19, we are still exposed to all the usual seasonal illnesses like colds, flu, stomach bugs etc. It’s even more important this year that we stay vigilant and keep up with measures like regular handwashing, wearing masks, and social distancing.
Get the flu jab if you need it – this page tells you who is entitled to a free vaccination on the NHS. The programme has been expanded this year because of the increased risk from COVID-19.
- Stay active
When it’s cold and dark the last thing you want to do is head out for exercise; but it’s so important for our physical and mental health to keep active throughout the winter. Find ways to adapt your exercise programme to colder, shorter days, or switch to a routine you can do indoors.
There is a common expression that “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” Wrap up warm and head out there! Keep extremities warm with gloves and thick socks, and be sure to keep cotton away from your skin, because it will chill you as you sweat.
- Look after your skin
Constant handwashing and using alcohol hand gel, combined with cold weather, can leave your hands feeling dry and painful. To avoid this, try switching to a moisturising soap for the winter and apply hand cream several times a day.
- Eat well
Part of the joy of winter is enjoying delicious warming meals. However, too much starchy, fatty food can leave us feeling sluggish. We tend to put on weight in the winter, partly due to eating more and partly because we do less exercise.
Eating a big, stodgy meal in the evening means your body has to work harder to digest it, and going to bed on a full stomach can keep you awake for longer and disrupt your sleep cycle, which has a knock-on effect on your wellbeing the following day. You can still enjoy hearty winter meals, just try to eat your biggest meal as early in the day as possible and keep your portion size under control.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy. However, the lack of sunlight between October and March means many of us develop a shortage of this essential nutrient, normally produced via exposure to sunlight.
The NHS says during winter we should aim to regularly eat vitamin D-rich foods such as eggs, meat, and oily fish to top up our levels. You could also consider taking supplements during winter months however speak to your local pharmacist who can help guide you on what is the right dosage to take.