The winter season can be a fun and exciting time full of holidays, indulgent meals, and snowy wonderlands. However, amidst all the hustle and bustle, the winter months are also a prime season for something else: the cold and flu (and this year, the coronavirus). With all this going on, how do you manage to stay healthy during this time?
This year, staying healthy is most likely already on the top of your priority list. In addition to what you’ve been doing all year to keep healthy (wearing a mask, washing your hands, etc.), there are specific approaches you can take during the wintertime that can protect you against the cold and flu, as well.
WellAge Senior Living, with retirement communities throughout Colorado, Oklahoma, and Nevada, encourages healthy living and healthy aging. We’re sharing some tips on how to stay healthy during the winter months.
Why Do So Many People Get Sick During Winter?
There are several reasons why people are more susceptible to colds and the flu during winter. Weakened immune systems combined with low humidity, reduced vitamin D levels, and closed-off quarters can create an inviting environment for these viruses. Plus, holiday events and colder temperatures may cause some people to let their healthy eating and exercise habits fall to the wayside.
All these factors combined pose a greater risk for catching a cold or even the flu. However, with some preventative measures and proactive lifestyle changes, you can work to protect yourself from any illness this winter.
Protecting Yourself During Winter
During the winter, the days are shorter, and there’s a significant lack of sunlight. Deprivation of sunlight can result in low levels of vitamin D, which can compromise the immune system. To safeguard against insufficient vitamin D levels, be sure to take proper supplements. These can help boost your immune system and even your mood.
While a vitamin D supplement can be beneficial, nothing compares to real, natural sunlight. Even though it’s cold (especially in Colorado), and the availability of natural light is significantly limited, try to get outside for a few moments each day when the sun is out. Not only will the sun exposure give you some natural vitamin D, but it may also boost your overall mood.
Get Up and Move
When it’s cold, dark, and dreary outside, it can be challenging to feel motivated to stick to a consistent exercise routine, but doing so can be essential in maintaining health during winter. Not only will you get that dose of vitamin D, but exercising can boost your mood, keep you energized, and strengthen your immune system from cold and flu viruses.
To motivate yourself to get outside and exercise, try going on a snow hike, a brisk walk with your pet, or a stroll around the neighborhood. Don’t forget to bundle up!
Try Yoga or Tai Chi
If you’re looking for a more low-impact exercise, tai chi can be a great option. Both yoga and tai chi are excellent ways to strengthen the muscles, improve balance and flexibility, and enhance the immune system—all in a relatively safe and low-intensity manner.
If you’re not sure how to get started with yoga or tai chi, there are great resources online to guide you through exercises and proper techniques. Here are some yoga poses that are great for promoting balance, strength, and overall healthy aging:
Tree Pose: This standing pose is excellent for improving balance. To do, stand up tall with your weight equally distributed. Then, slowly begin to lift one foot off the floor. You can place this foot as low as your ankle or as high as your inner thigh. Find a focus point for your gaze, and try to stay in this position for five to ten breaths, then repeat on the other side.
High Lunge: This pose helps strengthen the legs while opening the hips and chest. From a standing position, step one of your feet back, ensuring that the ball of the foot remains on the floor. Bend your front leg so that your knee forms a right angle. Raise your arms overhead, relax your shoulders, and stay here for five breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Cobra Pose: This position helps to open up the chest while strengthening the upper back. Lay on your stomach flat on the floor. From here, stretch your legs back and place the tops of the feet on the floor. Then, place your hands underneath your shoulders and press into your legs, lifting your chest slightly off the ground.
We tend to focus on the importance of staying hydrated in the summer when it’s hot, and we’re outside in the sun all day. However, staying hydrated during the winter is just as important. Dry weather, especially Colorado’s extreme dryness, can welcome viruses like the cold and the flu, so it’s critical to stay hydrated during winter. In addition to drinking water regularly, you can also get a humidifier for your home if you find it is extremely dry.
It can be tempting to put healthy eating habits on the back burner during winter, opting instead for holiday treats and heavy, indulgent casseroles. After a while, though, only eating refined sugar and carbohydrates can make you feel sluggish, bloated, and gloomy, so it’s important to include nutritious, immune-boosting foods into your winter diet. Some foods that support your immune system include mushroom, garlic, citrus fruits, herbs and spices, and yogurt.
Don’t Get Left In The Cold
Cold, dry weather, like in Colorado, can be a prime environment for viruses like the flu and the common cold. However, with the right precautions and health measures, you can work to ensure that you stay safe and healthy throughout the winter months and the entire year.
At WellAge Senior Living, healthy aging and healthy living are the foundations of our beliefs. We encourage you to enjoy this beautiful winter in a safe, healthy, and socially distant way!