5 Ways To Stay Healthy Through Winter
Winter is a time to prioritise our health and wellbeing, with colds and influenza being more common. Here are some tips to look after your health and well-being during the cooler months.
With the mercury dropping, it’s not unusual to experience a lull in motivation when it comes to exercise. However, it’s important to remain active during winter.
Exercise offers powerful health benefits, including improving your mood and decreasing feelings of depression, anxiety and stress; building and maintaining strong muscles and bones; increasing energy levels; and reducing your risk of chronic disease. What’s more, there’s a sizeable body of research that shows exercise benefits our immune system.
According to Australia’s Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Adults (18-64 years), you should try to be active most days of the week. Aim to do 2½ to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity, 1 ¼ to 2 ½ hours of vigorous intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both, each week. Muscle strengthening activities are recommended twice a week.
Avoid comfort eating
When it’s cold and bleak outside, it can be tempting to turn to comfort food and unhealthy snacks. However, it’s important not to let your healthy eating habits fall by the wayside during winter.
Concentrate on eating nutritious immunity-boosting foods that nourish your body and give it a fighting chance to ward off illness. Focus on foods that are high in antioxidants, vitamins (B, C, D and E are particularly important), and low in sugar and fat. You can find immune-boosting foods and inspiration here.
Don’t forget to keep your fluid levels up in winter too – aim for 2L minimum a day.
Pay attention to hygiene
One of the positives to come out of the pandemic is that people are much more conscious about hygiene to prevent the spread of germs. Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water, or an alcohol-based sanitiser.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue if you sneeze or cough and throw the tissue in the bin. Alternatively use your inner elbow. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Clean high-touch surfaces regularly (doors, handles, phones and toys). Lastly, don’t forget to follow the government’s social distancing precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Have your flu shot
The flu vaccination is recommended for everyone aged six months and over to reduce the chance of becoming ill with influenza. Due to increased demand, this year the Australian Government secured the largest ever supply of seasonal influenza vaccines.
The following people are eligible for influenza vaccines through the National Immunisation Program (NIP):
- All people aged 6 months to less than 5 years (newly eligible in 2020)
- All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over
- Pregnant women (during any stage of pregnancy)
- All people aged 65 years and over (this year Australia is the first country to offer an adjuvanted Quadrivalent Influenza Vaccine (QIV) – Fluad® Quad for people in this age group).
Protection is strongest within the first three to four months following vaccination, so now is a great time to get the jab.
Keep up to date with your health checks
Even if you are feeling healthy, it’s important to keep on top of your annual health checks. This can help prevent and detect serious illnesses early.
Some of the recommended regular health tests to think about include:
- Blood pressure checks
- Cholesterol levels
- Blood glucose
- Skin checks
- Bowel screening
Females should also consider:
- Breast screening
- Cervical cancer screening
- Bone density scanning
Men might consider:
- Prostate cancer testing
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