There is nothing worse than having a sickness or injury slow you down, and every season presents a variety of ailments. Winter is a beautiful season, but it also poses a very unique set of health threats. From colds and flu, to slip and falls, winter can wreak havoc on one’s body. But, it doesn’t have to.
While everyone’s bodies are different, and nothing health related is a guarantee, following these five tips will help you and your family fight off winter’s effects on the body.
- Flu Shots: Getting an annual flu shot is your best defense against contracting this prevalent winter virus. A flu shot will dramatically decrease your chances of contracting the virus. It also helps reduce the effects if you do get sick. And no, you cannot get the flu from getting the shot. It’s recommended that the entire family get the shot, beginning with infants six months and older on through seniors.
- Handwashing: Sickness can easily be passed around from person to person. That’s why you should be vigilant about washing your hands. This includes every time you sneeze or cough, use the restroom, and before meals. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with a period of vigorous rubbing using soap and warm water.
- Sleep: Sleep is truly a miracle drug. The body needs time to rest and recharge, and without enough sleep each night the effects can lead to increased chances of contracting a winter cold or the flu. This winter season, make sleep a priority. Healthy adults require between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, while kids and teens require a couple of hours more.
- Moisturize: Winter delivers cold, dry air that causes our skin to become dry and itchy. It’s important to use a moisturizer on the parts of your body that are susceptible to flaking and cracking: hands, feet, face, and scalp. It’s also important to protect against sun damage in the winter. Using a daily moisturizer that offers protection from UVA and UVB rays is recommended.
- Vitamin D: During winter, when the sun is very low in the sky, it’s hard to get a sufficient amount of Vitamin D naturally. A Vitamin D deficiency can lead to many health conditions, including osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. To help maintain your winter health, it’s important either to take a supplement or eat foods that are rich in Vitamin D, such as salmon, tuna, mushrooms, eggs, and milk.
Daniel J. Hyman, DO, is an Internist with Cooper University Health Care. If you do become sick or injured schedule a visit with your primary care doctor. Remember, personal health is a keystone to a happy and healthy lifestyle. Therefore it’s important to take these extra precautions to enjoy a happy and healthy winter season!