Healthy living for winter wellness
Do the shorter, darker days of winter leave you feeling wistful and inclined to hibernate? Read on for tips to feel sprightlier and help fend off those winter lurgies.
Get up, get out, get moving
Getting regular activity out in the winter sun can do wonders for your mood. Both exercise and bright light trigger the release of your body’s natural feel-good chemicals, including endorphins.
Doing at least 30 minutes moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week can help support your immune system to fight off winter bugs. And the sunlight on your skin helps increase your levels of bone-building vitamin D.
In winter we often reach for comfort foods which can be high in fat, sugar, and salt. It’s important to keep eating well through the colder months as it can also support your immune system to stave off infection.
Go for a range of colourful fruits and vegetables for plenty of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Also include low-fat dairy, lean protein, and wholegrains for a balanced diet that gives your body the nutrients it needs to function at its best.
Fight the spread of cold and flu
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not going outside in winter that makes you more likely to catch a cold or the flu. Colds and flu are caused by viruses that are spread by sneezing, coughing and hand contact. But your chances of catching a cold or the flu increase as people tend to stay indoors in closer contact with each other. So if you have an infection, help prevent spreading it to your friends, family and colleagues by maintaining good hygiene and a bit of extra distance.
Be sleep smart
It may be tempting to spend more time in your warm and cosy bed when it’s cold outside. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, varying according to age and individual need. So work out how much sleep you need then try to go to bed and wake around the same time each day. Having a healthier sleep routine helps maintain your wellbeing at any time of year.
The winter blues
If you feel consistently ‘low’ and notice changes in your sleep, energy and mood during long periods of grey wintery days, you may have a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Mild forms of SAD are often referred to as ‘winter blues’ but some people experience a more severe form where they’re almost unable to go about as normal in winter. While it’s not very common in Australia, talk to your GP if you think you may be affected.
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