The Winter season brings a great amount of joy and excitement – with the thought of the holidays and preparing for a new year. With all the events and preparation for the holidays, there are plenty of distractions that keep us from focusing on our health and wellbeing.
Given the weather of the Winter season, whether greeted by snow or just the brisk cold breeze, the usual evening jog might fall by the wayside as the toasty fireplace and comfy couch call your name. As the colder weather approaches and the days grow shorter, finding the motivation to stay healthy and fit can be difficult.
During this Winter season it’s more crucial than ever to focus on taking care of ourselves and protecting others. We’ve compiled some winter wellness tips that will help keep your immune system in tip-top shape, as well as combating the winter blues.
6 Winter Wellness Tips
1. Keep Moving
There are many benefits to physical activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical activity improves brain health, helps with weight management, reduces disease, strengthens bones and muscles, and improves the ability to do everyday activities.
Although it may be cold outside, it’s still a good idea to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. Walking, jogging, and biking are perfect outdoor activities that can be enjoyed year-round. If the cold becomes an issue, take to the indoors for exercise. Visit a local gym or take the workout to the living room, garage or basement. Search for workout videos or exercises online – YouTube and Pinterest are great resources. These resources offer a variety of workouts including yoga, aerobics, strength training, and body-weight exercises. Worried about equipment? If equipment is required, simple household items might do the trick, such as canned foods, paper plates, full milk jugs and more.
Furthermore, physical activity helps improve mental health. According to Mayo Clinic, regular exercise may help ease depression and anxiety by releasing feel-good endorphins and taking the mind off worries. Both of which are very beneficial during the Winter season.
2. Bundle Up
Winter brings colder temperatures, and depending on geographic location, possible snow and ice. It’s important to keep the body warm. The human body consists of some vulnerable areas when it comes to frigid temperatures. The ears, nose, fingers and toes have a high number of nerve endings that help with temperature detection. These nerve endings help to move blood away from the hands and feet, toward the core, so the body maintains heat and blood flow in cold weather. Therefore, it’s important to protect these vulnerable areas. Wearing toasty mittens and socks helps keep the blood moving and ultimately makes the whole body warm.
In addition, during the cold winter months, it’s important to layer up. Wearing multiple layers allows the body to stay completely warm and protect the body’s largest organ – the skin. If you’re looking to enjoy the snowcapped mountains or an area prone to wet winters, opt for water-resistant outer layers, such as a coat and shoes to keep your body both dry and warm.
3. Protect Your Skin
Skin is the body’s largest organ and during the Winter season it needs a little extra TLC. Between the cold air, low humidity, and frequent hand washing, skin can become dry, itchy, and irritated. According to Mayo Clinic, ignoring dry skin can ultimately lead to bigger health risks, such as dermatitis – which can leave skin dry, cracked and prone to infection.
Keep skin hydrated during the winter by using an oil-based moisturizer. Using an hypoallergenic lotion is best especially after frequent hand washing and bathing. In addition, consider using a humidifier in the home to help offset the hot, dry air of central heating.
4. Healthy Treats
During the holidays, it’s not uncommon to eat unhealthy foods at family gatherings or while balancing all the events of the season. Try to eat healthy treats, such as fruits and vegetables that are in season during the winter months. Dark leafy greens, winter squash, citrus fruits, and pomegranate contain nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber that increases energy and keeps winter-weight at bay.
5. Boost Vitamin D
Vitamin D is a nutrient needed to maintain strong bones and a healthy immune system. This nutrient helps the body absorb calcium to eliminate soft, thin, and brittle bones. In addition, it helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses – which is crucial during flu season and the current COVID-19 virus. According to a recent study of 489 patients at UChicago Medicine, those with a vitamin D deficiency were more likely to test positive for the COVID-19 virus than those who had sufficient levels of vitamin D.
The body makes vitamin D when the skin is directly exposed to the sun. Decreased sun exposure in the winter can lead to lower levels of vitamin D – putting the immune system in jeopardy. Leaving the immune system in this state could make you more prone to the flu, colds, and stomach bugs.
Luckily, there are other ways you can boost your vitamin D when the sun is in hiding. Adding vitamin D rich or vitamin D fortified items to the grocery list can really help boost your levels. Foods such as salmon, mushrooms, and canned tuna all supply natural vitamin D. Whereas milk, soy milk, yogurt, and orange juice are fortified with vitamin D.
6. Combat Germs
Germs are a given at any time of year but can be more prominent during the winter. According to National Institutes of Health, colder temperatures allow a virus’s outer cover to harden to a rubbery gel which acts as a protective shield for the virus as it passes from one person to another. Therefore, viruses such as the flu or COVID-19, can withstand the elements and is more easily passed during the winter months.
During a time when the flu is more prominent and we’re fighting against COVID-19, it’s important to combat germs. There are many ways to combat germs during the winter.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Utilize an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t readily available
- Cover coughs or sneezes with tissue, then throw away the tissue and wash your hands
- Wear a mask over your nose and mouth while in public
- Stay home when sick
Staying healthy and fit is important year-round, but it’s even more important in the Winter season where motivation can be lacking, the winter blues could hit, and those pesky viruses are shielded by the cold elements. Utilize these 6 winter wellness tips and be sure to stay on-top of annual check-ups by contacting Roseman Medical Group at 702-463-4040.
Article by Kristine Campo