4 Tips To Stay Healthy This Winter
Stress associated with the winter season, including the holidays, can make you more susceptible to illness.
Pile on the pressure of emotional and economic woes, and soon you’ll find yourself run down. No one wants to make an unexpected trip to the doc when simple healthy habits can help keep the ‘bug’ at bay. Preventive medicine, also known as prophylaxis, is the process of anticipating illness or disease and treating it before it occurs. Protect your immune system with these 4 simple tips and see how they are all interrelated.
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1) Keep hydrated
In the winter, we may not feel as thirsty because it’s cold, but we still need to remember to drink water. There’s always debate on exactly how much water to drink depending on gender and activity levels. In general, men need to consume eight to 10 glasses a day. Women should consume six to eight glasses every day. If you’re not a huge fan of water, sip on some hot tea. The health benefits of green and black tea include lower cholesterol, cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and risk for heart disease. Tea can also increase concentration and memory. If you’re feeling cold to the core, tea takes the chill off.
2) Sleepy time
Winter brings on the urge to hibernate. It’s only natural when the sun goes down at 5 pm and it’s still dark when you get up in the morning. Limited daylight hours in the winter can affect the quality and quantity of sleep. Lack of light produces more melatonin (a chemical produced by the pituitary gland), which can make the body feel tired and sluggish. Several tips for sleeping better include setting a routine, making sure the room is cool, turning off electronics, not eating immediately before going to sleep and exercising during the day.
The amount of sleep you get per night affects how you feel and how you function, basically every aspect of your well-being. So, if you’re not getting 7-8 hours a night, you’re at risk for a weakened immune system, and an increased risk for heart disease and hypertension, according to Harvard Medical School sleep expert Lawrence Epstein.
3) Get outdoors
Exercise tends to take the backseat when it’s cold outside. Bundling up and heading into the snow and slush isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time, but you could use it as an opportunity to try a new sport like fat-biking or cross country skiing. And don’t forget the vitamin D you get from the sun is just as important as the cardio workout. Exercise helps you sleep at night, too. One study that looked at the effects of a single exercise session found that a moderate-intensity aerobic workout reduced the time it took to fall asleep and increased the length of sleep of people with chronic insomnia.
The human body is designed to move, even in the winter, when you feel like hibernating.
4) Sinus solutions
If it’s too dry at night when you are trying to sleep, you might notice nasal congestion or sinus pressure. One solution is to get a humidifier for your bedroom and use while you’re running the heat.
A nasal irrigation system, such as a Neti pot, is another popular method of removing excess mucus, allergens and irritants. To make your own saline mixture, combine 16 ounces of lukewarm distilled water with 1 teaspoon of salt. To buffer the solution, add ½ teaspoon of baking soda. Simple changes to your lifestyle may have a large impact on your health this winter. Besides diet, exercise and sleep, talk to your doctor about any additional vitamins, supplements or medications you might need.
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