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7 Tips for Staying Healthy This Winter

Posted December 09, 2021 by Charles A. Zonfa, MD, FACOG | Chief Medical Office

It’s wintertime once again! And whether you’re looking forward to the season ahead or not, there are plenty of preparations to help you stay healthy this time of year. SummaCare offers seven tips to help you stay healthy this winter and into the warmer weather months ahead. 

Get Up to Date on Vaccinations

Do your part to protect yourself and loved ones during this season of respiratory infections.

Flu season peaks in January, so if you haven’t already done so, be sure to get your flu shot. Everyone six months and older should receive the flu shot. Summa Health and other health experts warn it’s especially important this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a potentially difficult flu season.

Adding the COVID-19 vaccine to your list is vital. As more and more people move indoors and safety precautions wane, it’s the best way to protect yourself against the virus and help stop the spread. It’s now available for anyone 5 years and older.

For adults 65 and older, or anyone with a chronic health condition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend the pneumonia vaccine.

Practice Proper Hygiene

With viruses such as the common cold, RSV, influenza and COVID-19 circulating this winter, it’s important to be vigilant about proper hygiene. Protect yourself and reduce the spread of these viruses by:

  • Washing your hands regularly with soap and warm water
  • Sanitizing surfaces frequently
  • Avoiding the sharing of cups and utensils
  • Wearing a mask in crowded, indoor areas
  • Keeping a 6-foot distance from others
  • Staying home if you’re not feeling well

Protect Your Heart

Studies show when temperatures drop, the rates of heart attacks, stroke and other heart-related conditions go up, according to the American Heart Association. Cold weather makes your heart work harder to keep your body warm. Take these steps this winter to protect your heart:

  • Make nutritious choices. Continue to eat a heart-healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy and lean proteins. Limit saturated fats and excess sugar.
  • Exercise. Shorter days and colder weather can translate to less frequent exercise. Be sure you’re still getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. If you must exercise outdoors, don’t overexert yourself and move indoors on the most frigid days.
  • Drink in moderation. Don’t let the season of celebrations cause you to drink more alcohol. Men should have no more than two drinks a day and women no more than one a day.
  • Reduce stress. It’s a busy and stressful time of year. Be sure to take time for meditation, breathing exercises or practicing other stress-relieving activities.

Be Mindful of Driving Conditions

While you can’t control the weather, you can decide to stay home and avoid driving. Each year, more than 150,000 car crashes occur due to snowy, slippery roads, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

If you must go out, make sure roads are in good condition. Go slow and be especially careful on bridges and overpasses. Keep an ice scraper in your car to clean all windows before getting behind the wheel.

Wear Shoes with Good Traction

With icy, slippery conditions, falling is unfortunately a common wintertime injury. When heading outside, make sure your shoes or boots have a sole with good traction and a low heel to help prevent slips and falls. Watch where you’re walking and tread carefully to avoid icy patches.

Stay Hydrated

Getting hot and sweaty in the summertime is a trigger to drink water, but it’s just as important to stay hydrated when it’s cold, too. Staying hydrated keeps you energized, helps protect your skin from dry, cold winter air and keeps your body working in tip-top shape.

A good goal is to drink about eight glasses or more of water each day. Mix it up with herbal teas, fruit-infused water or 100% juice. Even broth-based soups count toward your fluid intake.

Get Vitamin D

More time spent indoors and less sunlight on your skin can lead to a Vitamin D deficiency. Getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D is crucial for bone health.

Good sources of vitamin D include fortified cereals and low-fat dairy, such as yogurt and cheese, fish and eggs. If diet alone isn’t enough, consider a Vitamin D supplement.