The winter months for most places in the United States is often associated with shiver inducing cold temperatures. We all know that winter can be hectic and busy, especially around the holidays. Whether being around a lot of friends and family, crowded shopping areas, or doing a lot of traveling, you deal with quite a bit. As the weather is chilly and the days are often shorter, staying healthy during the winter months can be difficult for many people. Finding the motivation to eat healthy, let alone stay fit and exercise, can be a real challenge. Throw in the fact that it’s cold and flu season, and you might just appreciate some pointers for staying as healthy as possible during winter.
When you are stuck inside, and the temperatures drop, we tend to snack, and the lack of exercise or activity causes most of our immune systems to weaken. Viruses, other bacteria, and sickness can come indoors, especially as everyone is touching the same things, and germs travel. If your immune system isn’t up to the task and can’t protect you, you are most likely going to catch whatever is going around, whether it’s a cold or flu. This means less energy, congestion, and just plain dreadful feeling. It’s essential to find ways to strengthen your immune system, and ward off the very real threat of colds, flu, and other winter germs.
If you get sick, your primary care physician is the one to take care of all your sick needs. They can accurately give a diagnosis and provide the right form of treatment. Most importantly, they can also give tips on how to best keep healthy during these winter months. Also, if you’re wondering whether you should have gotten the flu shot – the answer is yes, and your PCP can provide that for you.
Each winter, sickness puts millions of people out of commission, costing jobs more than 20 billion dollars in paid sick days, and more than 200,000 are sent to the hospital. So, the question is, how do you protect yourself during the winter? Here are some tips from your primary care physician.
- Eat a healthy diet and keep active in some way: Eating a healthy diet or maintaining one is difficult. Exercising and diet are not just about weight. Staying healthy can strengthen your immune system and help you ward of illness, which means bettering your chances of avoiding getting the cold or the flu this season. Since the weather is cold, motivating yourself is important, and exercising outdoors may not be the best option. Rather than giving up, find a fun way to exercise indoors. For your diet, eat fruits, vegetables, and calm your cravings down by eating a protein-packed breakfast that fills you up and keeps you energized throughout the day.
- Stay hydrated: Staying hydrated is extremely important, especially in cold weather. We don’t really associate or think about dehydration being associated with cold weather. While the body doesn’t feel as hot when the outside temps are lower, your sweat actually evaporates quicker in the cold, dry air. Thus, we’re tricked into thinking we aren’t losing fluids as rapidly. So, drink a lot even when you are not particularly thirsty. It can help with skin dryness and other things. Using a humidifier at home will help with the dry air associated with heating.
- Use hand sanitizer: 59 percent of people that regularly use hand sanitizer had less cases of being sick than nonusers. Use hand sanitizer as well as thoroughly washing your hand to avoid coming in contact with things that can make you sick, as germs are everywhere.
- Take multivitamins: Taking a daily multivitamin that contains vitamins A, B6, B12, C, and D and the minerals chromium, copper, folic acid, selenium, calcium, and zinc, will help strengthen your immune system. Absorb the nutrients of the vitamins better by taking it during a meal.
While the winter months in South Carolina typically don’t compare with some of the colder places up north, it can still dip down and be very different compared to our mild summer months. People tend to exercise less, and the cold and flu virus travel just like people do. To learn more about how your primary care physician can help you avoid getting sick during the winter months, call SC Internal Medicine Associates and Rehabilitation at (803) 749-1111 or request an appointment online.