For some, the cold season may come as a welcome change to the hot summer we experienced in the UK this year. But with the winter chill settling in, it can be more challenging than ever to stay active, fight off those colds and resist the unhealthy temptations of comfort food and party drinks. Find below 7 easy tips to help you stay healthy over the winter months.
1 Eat in season
From tangerines and clementines to mandarins and satsumas or any fruit that looks like a petite version of an orange, these brightly-coloured citrus fruits are in peak season right now. But besides bringing a burst of exotic flavour into your winter days, they are loaded with vitamin C, which can help boost your immune system and keep your skin smooth and elastic. So next time you go grocery shopping, make sure you add some into your basket.
Extra tip: When buying, choose the fruits that are firm and feel heavier. According to Eat the Season, they will be juicer. They also advise to look for European imported citrus fruits to avoid the dry and tasteless ones.
2 Keep hydrated
During the cold winter days, we can easily become dehydrated from sweating under our thick layers, breathing in the cold drying air and not drinking enough fluids. But unlike in the summer, dehydration in the cold weather is less noticeable. Net Doctor suggests that you always keep a water bottle with you, in plain sight if possible. You can also take your water from foods like hot soups and stews, a perfect fit for the cold weather.
Extra tip: There is no one-size-fits-all amount of water you should drink as it all depends on a number of factors like age, body mass and physical activity. A quick way to tell if you need to drink more water is to check the colour of your urine which should always be a pale clear colour according to the NHS.
3 Wash your hands
It might sound simple but soap, water and some scrubbing will ensure that you keep viruses away from your hands, helping you prevent colds and illnesses. People sneeze and cough around you all the time, spreading tiny drops of mucus which can easily meet your hands. The Independent recommends avoiding touching common objects and surfaces and washing your hands as often as possible. Also make sure you avoid touching your face. Doing otherwise could make it easier for viruses to find a way in.
Extra tip: Always dry your hands completely after washing. Wet skin helps spread bacteria and you can pick up germs more easily if you let your hands air dry, claims BBC.
4 Get good sleep
With less daylight during winter, our body produces more melatonin, the hormone that makes us feel tired and sleepy. But the NHS argues that we don’t actually need more sleep in winter than in summer. In fact, snoozing for longer can make you feel even more sluggish. So make sure you aim for about eight hours of undisturbed sleep at night and try to keep bed times and waking up times consistent, even during weekends.
Extra tip: While the cold outdoor weather may tempt you to turn your thermostat up, try to sleep at a temperature around 18C. Your body heat starts to drop as bedtime approaches which helps you fall asleep and sleep better. Keeping a slightly cooler temperature in your bedroom will help your body get to that condition faster.
5 Move more
Many of us give up on exercising in the months leading to Christmas. However, the NHS points out that regular work out during winter will make you feel more energetic and can strengthen your immune system. What’s more, winter might be the perfect time for runners. As stated by Evening Standard, the cold brings the heart rate down by pumping less blood to the skin to eliminate heat, making us more resistant and helping us work out for longer. But if you still can’t motivate yourself to get out there, you can try one of these 10-minute indoor routines.
Extra tip: Since it’s winter, why not book a skating session at one of the many public skating rinks around the UK.
6 Dress for the weather
Layering could be the way to beat the cold as the air between your clothes will act as an insulator, keeping your body warm. Living Made Easy proposes wearing multiple thin layers as thick clothes tend to push air out with their weight. Materials are also important, wool and fleece being a good idea because they’re soft and light thus effective at trapping air.
Extra tip: In case you were looking for an excuse to get something new this season, older clothes are less warm because they become compressed and heavier with time.
7 Limit the festive drinking
The holiday season tends to be a time of excess when it comes to all that Christmas booze. But you don’t have to follow the crowd. You could try to cut back on alcohol this year by choosing a drink with less alcohol or by turning up to the party a bit later. The Mix also indicates starting off with something soft to stop you feeling thirsty when you drink alcohol. And make sure you have a good dinner before and drink plenty of water in between drinks.
Extra tip: Getting warm from drinking is a big myth according to Drink Aware. Quite the contrary, alcohol takes blood away from your vital organs and drives it to the peripheral vessels near your skin. That’s why you feel warm and your cheeks turn red. Avoid going out in the cold after drinking as it can be dangerous, and you can lose heat very quickly.
So bring those New Year’s resolutions forward and start being more healthy right now. But don’t forget to savour the holiday spirit and (safely) enjoy winter’s pleasures!