I wrote this piece for a local(ish) paper, but thought it might be of interest to others! Enjoy & keep cosy!
Watch your Diet
When it’s cold outside most of us crave something warming and comforting to eat. However cosy winter food doesn’t always need to be calorie loaded. This time of year is a great time to make hearty soups and stews packed with seasonal vegetables. Not only will you fill yourself up with something delicious, you’ll also be packing in you 5-a-day without even noticing.
Making sure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables is especially important in winter months. They help reduce your risk of serious diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity, and can also to boost your immune system and try to keep those nasty bugs at bay.
Get plenty of sleep
We all should aim for at least 6-8 hours of sleep per night, but how many of us are getting it? Getting sufficient sleep has been shown to have a multitude of positive effects on the body from reducing the risk of serious illness to helping overall life expectancy.
Once the clocks have changed its often an opportunity to go into a mini-hibernation mode and make sure you are clocking up sufficient shut-eye.
Get your flu jab
At this time of year there are always a multitude of colds viruses flying about. Whilst many of us get struck down with sniffles and runny noses, flu is a very different matter. It causes high temperatures, muscle aches and exhaustion and most worryingly in vulnerable groups it can lead to more serious illness.
If you are over 65 years of age, have a serious illness, a reduced immune system or are pregnant you should be entitled to a flu jab on the NHS. This is now also available for children aged 2-4 years old as a somewhat more palatable nasal spray. See my previous post for more information about the children’s flu vaccine. People who don’t qualify for an NHS flu jab can opt to have it done privately; many pharmacies and clinics offer this service.
The flu jab doesn’t usually cause side effects. However, you may experience mild fever and slight muscle aches for a day or so.
It is important that when the temperatures plummet you don’t start to feel the chill too much. Keeping warm is really important and is known to help prevent colds and flu, as well as more serious health problems such as heart attacks strokes, pneumonia and depression.
If you are over 65 years old or suffer with heart, lung or kidney disease it is particularly important for you to keep warm and that your home is heated to at least 18°C in temperature.
Even when its cold outside and there are fewer hours of daylight, try not to use this as an excuse to stop all exercise. Not only is exercise great for keeping us trim, it will also give you more energy and help banish winter blues.
Adults should aim to do a minimum of two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week such as brisk walking or cycling. This level of intensity should be sufficient to get your heart rate up and make you breathe faster, but still allow you to maintain a conversation. Go on, give it a go!