Staying Well in Cold Weather
According to the Met Office, the cold weather can impact your health—but why, and what can you do about it?
They call it cold and flu season for a reason. The germs seem to be everywhere, threatening to attack our bodies. We also tend to enjoy too many ever-present sweets during the holidays, forsaking good nutrition in the process. Add to that the injuries that come with snow and ice and, suddenly, winter is scary. No worries, though, there are ways to stay healthy when it gets cold outside.
Get a Flu Jab
Technically, it’s not the cold that makes you more prone to illness in the winter months, as most conditions associated with the cold are viruses. The answer is actually much simpler. We tend to stay indoors more when it is cold outside, so our chances of being exposed to the flu increases in winter. Some evidence suggests that viruses spread easily in dry air, so the cold creates a better environment for the transmission of microbes that make us sick. On top of that, being cold put stress on the immune system, so we have more difficulty fighting off a virus.
In the U.K., certain groups qualify for a free flu jab to help reduce the spread of viruses. You can get a free vaccine if you are any of the following:
- Over the age of 65
- Between the ages of two and four
- In school years one, two, or three
- Living with a chronic illness, such as diabetes or kidney disease
- Suffering from a weakened immune system due to disease or medication
- Residing in a long-term residential care home or facility
- Providing care for someone who is disabled or elderly
Practice Good Flu Hygiene
If you do come down with a cold or the flu, take the following precautions to prevent spreading the virus:
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Stay home from work or school
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, and use hand sanitizer
Eat for the Cold
When planning your meals, eat foods that help keep you healthy and warm. Serve hot dishes and drinks with most meals to raise body temperatures. Make sure to stock up on the healthy essentials, too, like fruits and vegetables. Also remember that tinned or frozen are just as good for you as fresh.
Eat often throughout the day to keep your energy levels up.
Don’t use the cold weather as an excuse not to exercise. Go to the gym or take a yoga class—whatever it takes to keep you active. Moving around helps generate body heat, so exercise will help keep you warm. While working, make a point of getting up and walking around once or twice an hour.
Take a Dietary Supplement
The right blend of supplements can give you an added boost during the winter months. For example:
NHS Choices reports more than 25,000 winter deaths each year in the U.K., so take precautions when the weather turns nasty. Combine a healthy diet, warm hearth, and practical exercise plan with a blend of dietary supplements to keep you and your family feeling good this winter.
NHS Choices, Keep Warm, Keep Well, 2014
HM Government, Keep Warm, Keep Well, 2016
Duda, Kristina, R.N. Very Well, Does Cold Weather Make You Sick? 2016
NHS Choices, Very Cold Weather
Writer bio: Darla F. is a full-time freelance writer and healthcare professional who specializes in helping agencies meet their goals by developing creative and engaging content.
- Darla Ferrara