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Staying Well This Winter

A timely reminder of some core habits to focus on this season to keep you healthy and well each day.

Be Hygienic

This shouldn’t be news by any means, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands frequently can help stop the spread of germs and prevent us from getting sick. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. Prevention is key, and can be ensured by taking the following measures:

  • Wash your hands often with warm water and soap, especially before eating.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces frequently, especially high touch surfaces – like door handles and sink faucets – when someone in the house is sick.
  • Dispose of used tissues right away, don’t leave them lying around.
  • Don’t share cutlery, glasses, or water bottles with someone that is sick (or well for that matter – sickness can be contagious before symptoms are obvious).
  • If family or friends are sick, give them space and be extra careful with hygiene (do not share bathroom towels/ face cloths, for example).
  • If you fly frequently, don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you’ve washed your hands with warm water and soap. Also, consider sanitizing your seat and surrounding area before taking off.

Keep your Home (and yourself) Warm

It is important to keep warm in winter – both inside and outdoors. Keeping warm over the winter months can help to prevent colds, flu, and more serious health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia, and depression. Keep these strategies in mind to help:

  • Heat your home to at least 18°C (65°F), and keep your bedroom window closed on winter nights. Consider using a space heater at night to keep your room at  a consistent, comfortable temperature.
  • Try not to sit still for more than an hour or so to promote circulation.
  • Wear several layers of light clothes – they trap warm air better than one bulky layer.
  • Consider drinking tea or other warming beverages throughout the day to raise your core temperature.

Get enough Sleep

If you’re sleep-deprived you increase your risk of getting sick. Sleep is your ultimate form of recovery, so if you’re not getting enough, you may actually be blunting the effect of training and increasing your risk of picking up the next bug.

For information on sleep promoting habits, you’re encouraged to read this short blog.

Woman sleeping in her bed

Stress Less and Move More

High-stress levels are well documented as being immunosuppressive. The longer you’re stressed and the more often you’re stressed appears to be directly related to increased incidence of developing cold and flu symptoms.

If you feel your stress levels getting out of hand, find ways to manage this that works for you. For information on stress reducing habits, you’re encouraged to read this short blog.

As activity is a great stress buster, don’t use the cold winter months as an excuse to stay in and lounge around. Instead, get out with the whole family to try out a new activity – maybe ice skating, snow shoeing, or sledding.

Regular exercise helps control your weight, boost your immune system, and is a good way to break the tension that can build if the family is constantly cooped up inside the house.

Eat a Nutrient Rich Diet and Stay Hydrated Each Day

Vitamins and minerals are important for a huge range of reactions within the body such as growth and repair, muscle function, energy metabolism, and protection from free radical damage. If we don’t get enough of certain nutrients, our health and performance suffers. It also increases your risk of getting sick. We recommend prioritizing the following dietary habits to support your health:

  • Focus on getting a variety of nutrients each day from fresh fruits and vegetables. The more colours, the better to ensure you’re getting a wide range of important, sickness busting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Include whole grain choices like whole grain bread, pasta & brown rice, whole oats, barley, and quinoa that provide lots of fibre and nutrients like iron, niacin, and folic acid.
  • Select a variety of protein foods like legumes, eggs, lower fat dairy products, fish, chicken, and meat that provide nutrients in addition to protein like iron and zinc.
  • Hydrate with sugar and calorie free fluids throughout each day – especially if you suspect a cold is setting in, but even if you’re in strong health (to ensure it continues). For more information on hydration, you’re encouraged to read this short blog.

If you do feel like you’re coming down with something, there’s good evidence to suggest Vitamin C and Zinc can help prevent or decrease the severity of a cold or flu. Check with your GP or another informed healthcare professional to see if this is a good idea for you.

Stay well guys!