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Top Winter Health Tips

4th Feb 2013

The new year has arrived and spring may be approaching, but we still have a hefty chunk of winter to get through (especially if last year’s early-year weather pattern repeats itself!). So, it’s important to bear in mind all those little pearls of wisdom from parents and grandparents to keep coughs, colds and other nasty bugs firmly at bay.

Not sure what tips you should be following? I’ve put together a brief list of some basic rules to stick to; they can’t guarantee you’ll evade every winter illness, but they should help!

Tip 1: Keep your home warm

One of the most fundamental steps to take in the winter is to keep your home nice and warm. Now, I realise that thanks to hikes in energy bills this is becoming a more expensive task, but it still needs to remain a priority.

Guidance from the NHS states that you should keep your main living area in the region of 18 to 21 degrees C, while the rest of your property shouldn’t drop lower than 16 degrees C. If you really feel the cold but are worried about the cost of keeping your home in the upper region of these figures, don’t forget that wearing several layers can really help. Go for several thin ones, as well as a thick jumper.

Tip 2: Eat well

The next step is making sure you eat well, both in terms of packing in plenty of fruit and veg, and simply ensuring you eat enough. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, eating a minimum of five portions of fruit and veg a day will help ensure you’re getting a good mix of vitamins, which ought to keep your immune system happy.

Secondly, food is fuel – and it’s fuel our bodies use as energy to keep us warm. So, if you don’t eat enough, you won’t stay warm, which is bad news in winter. Another idea – while not technically food-based – is upping your oxygen consumption.

If you haven’t heard of this before, it might sound a bit odd at first, so bear with me. You can buy medical oxygen canisters for the home that enable you to breathe oxygen-enriched air. Doing so regularly can help you feel revitalised and even boost your immunity, while it can also counteract tiredness by giving you both a short-term boost and encouraging better sleep.

Tip 3: Maintain your exercise regime

Just as eating well is important in the winter, so is keeping up your exercise regime – even if it is cold outside. Exercise increases your white blood cell count; put simply, this means it bolsters your immune system, so it’s an important part of fending off colds and such.

When exercising outdoors in the cold, remember to wear several layers rather than one or two thick ones, so you can easily adjust your temperature, as well as reflective clothing. While it may be chilly, it is often better than working out in gym, since you won’t be crammed in a room with lots of other people who might have colds!

Tip 4: Wash your hands

My final tip is to take extra care with your hand hygiene. Wash thoroughly and frequently – especially if you’re in a public place – and avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes as much as possible to reduce the risk of transferring bugs.

This is especially true if you’re visiting a doctor’s surgery, since lots of people there are likely to have winter colds or other viruses. Speaking of visiting the doctor, it is worth checking whether you are eligible for a free flu vaccine. If you are over 65 or have asthma, for example, your surgery should offer these to you.

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