Before the rounds of coughs, colds, flu and illnesses start to ramp up with the onset of winter, get ahead of the game with our 10 ways to stay healthy and get your family on the track to winter wellness.
Tip #1: Consider your diet
Food is our body’s fuel and as such, it can have a big influence on our health. When the winter bugs start going around, boost your diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, especially those containing vitamin C and other beneficial vitamins and minerals. Here you will find a comprehensive list of immunity boosting foods. Cook with herbs and spices plus garlic, onion, ginger, curry powder, turmeric, and black peppercorns for an immunity boost.
Tip #2: Keep up the exercise
A moderate level of regular exercise, especially aerobic workouts, can help your immune response and reduce both the number of sick days and the severity of illnesses. Don’t want to brave the sideways rain? Work out at the gym or even at home. The best motivator for exercise is to share it with someone else so get the kids into the backyard for a game of footy, take a walk with the dog, or try out a new dance class with a friend.
Tip #3: Wash those hands
During winter we cough and sneeze a lot more than at other times so there’s a lot more potential for germs to make their way from person to person. Help stop germs from spreading through regular hand washing. Wash with soap for at least 20 seconds and dry thoroughly. Coughs and sneezes are better to be kept away from the hands so cover your mouth with the crook of your arm instead. And ditch those used tissues!
Tip #4: Sleep well
Our lives are so busy and we’re on the go, seemingly 24/7. But a good eight hours sleep each night for adults (and more for growing kids) will really help your immune system, as being run-down leaves you more susceptible to illness. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, a bedtime routine can help. Turn lights down low when bedtime is approaching, avoid caffeine, read a book and avoid the bright glare of those smartphone and tablet screens.
Keep your sleeping environment healthy by using an air purifier to help remove allergens and pollutants.
Tip #5: Get a flu shot
The flu jab or vaccine is available from either your GP or some pharmacies. If you are over 65, pregnant, or have a medical condition that puts you at greater risk of influenza (such as heart disease or asthma), you can get the vaccine for free. For others, the vaccine costs around $25 to $45. Find our more on the Fight Flu website.
Tip #6: Don’t isolate yourself (unless you’re sick!)
It may seem backwards but broadening your social network can actually help keep you healthy. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University discovered that college students with larger social networks produced more flu-fighting antibodies after an influenza vaccine, than those who frequented smaller groups. So get out there and socialise. Choose something fun to do together and you will also benefit from the best medicine of all – laughter!
Of course, if you do come down with an illness during the winter months, try to contain yourself as much as possible to avoid spreading it to others.
Tip #7: Keep hydrated
You know you really should drink more water … it’s the message behind so many health discussions! Our bodies need to be hydrated to function efficiently and to keep our immune system in top shape. Water is best but you can also drink herbal teas (especially green tea for its detox effects). Just try to stay away from those sugary drinks and keep alcohol intake in check.
Tip #8: Reduce stress
Stress that is ongoing for a long period of time can affect our immunity system, leaving us more susceptible to colds and flu. Reducing stress levels increases infection-fighting antibodies, so make the most of opportunities to destress.
Yoga, exercise, reading a book, socialising with friends, even just a few minutes of meditation can all help to lower your stress levels.
Tip #9: Get some sun
When our skin is exposed to sunlight it produces vitamin D, which has the ability to modulate our immunity responses. We are lucky in this country that we still see a good amount of sunshine, even in the winter months. So make the most of opportunities to enjoy that sunshine. Always remember to be sun smart when outdoors, even in winter.
Tip #10: Prepare your home for winter
Insulation, an efficient heating system, and a warm and dry home can go a long way to keeping you and your family healthy during the colder months. Tick off our checklist of ways to prepare your home for winter and make sure that you’re ready for the cold, wind and rain.