Call for Consultation:(650) 722-2766
Winter brings colder weather and many health threats. Cold and flu viruses thrive at this time of year and can be dangerous for aging adults, as well as infants and individuals with weakened immune systems. Colder weather and less daylight influences mental health, too. Let’s discuss a few habits we can practice to strengthen our immune systems and overall well-being in winter. As we age, our immune system weakens. Healthcare providers recommend getting a flu shot annually, which may help prevent the flu. There are also many other things you can incorporate into your daily routine with minimal effort. Two of the simplest ways to prevent infection include proper hand washing and avoiding people who are sick.
A routine visit to the doctor is prime time for exposure to many germs, viruses and bacteria lingering from sick people. Any gathering of people can also pose a health risk during winter since viruses can be contagious before symptoms start. Many healthcare facilities provides masks at the entrances for the purpose of protecting yourself from possible exposure, as well as protecting others from your own germs if you are sick. Masks help decrease the spread of airborne germs. You can purchase them at any drugstore or pharmacy for a small cost. Consider wearing one anytime you may risk exposure, especially in places where you know you will encounter sick individuals. Wash your hands often. Wash or air out your coat after outings. Leave your shoes at the door when you arrive home. Little habits like these help prevent germs from following you home and into your living space.
Eating nutrient-rich foods will also strengthen your immune system. Citrus fruits are in season in winter, and rich in vitamin C. Squeeze lemon into your tea or water. Enjoy an orange with breakfast, or toss some in a salad. For fruits and vegetables that aren’t in season, frozen ones are still a healthy and affordable option. They often have less sodium and additives than canned versions. Spices such as garlic, onions, turmeric, and ginger are flavorful additions to your meals and also packed with antioxidants that can fight illness. Soups and stews are a delicious way to load up on veggies, and they are easy to prepare. Throw ingredients into a crockpot in the morning and by dinner you will have a savory, hot meal. Discuss your diet with your health providers and ask about good options for vitamins and other supplements that you can incorporate into your wellness plan.
Cold and flu viruses aren’t the only threat to your health in winter. Seasonal affective disorder and/or the “winter blues” affect mental wellness for many adults. Seasonal depression is a mental illness that can have physical side effects, too. Symptoms can vary depending on the individual. Depressed individuals may feel too tired to function, or they might just feel a little off. Regardless, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider if you are struggling. You can also practice mental wellness regularly on your own with things like gratitude journaling, rest, and exercise. Exercise releases mood-boosting endorphins in the brain. Many simply exercise routines can be done at home, such as yoga, walking, simple stretching and breathing exercises. Ask a friend or relative to partner with you for extra accountability.
Winter can be an enjoyable time of year with a few healthy habits. Small changes each day will reap great benefits over time. Be well and stay warm.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.