3 Ways To Stay Healthy Through Winter
As temperatures drop and seasons change in most parts of the continental U.S., it signifies the arrival of the holidays and enjoyable fall activities like pumpkin picking and hayrides. However, it also brings the onset of cold and flu season, exacerbated by longer hours of darkness and reduced outdoor engagement. To help you maintain a strong immune system and stay healthy until springtime, here are some valuable tips to consider:
Engaging in cardiovascular exercise offers numerous physical and mental health benefits. Despite the cold weather, even a 30-minute walk outside can work wonders for your body and mood. Exposure to daylight on your skin helps boost Vitamin D levels, which are crucial for maintaining healthy bones, a strong immune system, and overall mental well-being. Furthermore, exposure to daylight through your eyes helps regulate your circadian rhythms.
Maintaining a healthy weight contributes to the overall well-being of your entire system and promotes a positive body image. If you enjoy winter sports, activities like running (with caution to avoid black ice), skiing, snowboarding, and ice-skating can be great options. If outdoor activities aren’t your preference, consider joining a gym or swimming pool to ensure you maintain an exercise routine. Remember, consistency is key, regardless of the activity or duration. Regular exercise gets your heart pumping and stimulates the production of white blood cells, enhancing your immune system’s ability to combat colds and viruses.
Additionally, practicing yoga is highly beneficial for boosting your immune system. However, if possible, prioritize leaving the house for walks, runs, or other forms of exercise.
The high majority of doctors and nutritionists concur that It’s extremely important to maintain a balanced diet through the winter months. The holidays often involve a lot of communal and celebratory meals. Don’t overdo the sugary treats as sugar suppresses the immune system! Do eat plenty of vegetables, protein, and fruits high in vitamin C. Make sure to stay hydrated as well; in the winter it’s easy to forget about drinking the water that you might normally drink in warmer weather. You may want to take a vitamin D or fish oil supplement to boost your T-cells and help ward off infection; getting plenty of sunlight can also stimulate vitamin D production though often this can be in short supply in winter.
Take care of your mind
First things first: get plenty of rest — not too little and not too much. Your body might require more sleep in the wintertime due to the dark hours and colder weather, but staying in bed too long can also lead to depression. Of course, if you are sick, then sleep is the best thing you can do. A regular sleep schedule allowing you what you need (the average is 8 hours) will provide the maximum benefit. Secondly, try to manage your stress effectively. Diet and exercise will help, but the holidays often bring extra family and career stresses not found at other times of the year. Consult a therapist or mental health professional as needed — you are worth it! Stress also has been proven to suppress the immune response. Thirdly, make time for quality time with your friends and your loved ones. Maintaining social connections with people whose company you enjoy not only lightens your mood and keep the immune response up, but studies have shown that it may even help you live longer! You don’t have to be a victim of the “winter blues”, but if you think or know that you do suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) consulting a qualified healthcare professional (whether conventional or alternative) can help you survive the darker times of the year.
The Alliance Direct Benefits is committed to helping you stay healthy through the winter and, in fact, all year round! Members save up to 40% on all CVS brand eligible health-related items (such as cough and cold meds, hand sanitizer, etc) with the CVS ExtraCare card. Members also have access to Teladoc, a 24/365 national network of U.S. board-certified physicians available to answer any medical questions that you might have. There are discounts available on lab tests, MRI, CT, and/or PET imaging, and prescription and emergency assistance. For more information, and to become an Alliance member, visit the Alliance Direct Benefits website today or call us at 1-800-733-2242 (M-F, 7am-5:30pm Central Time).