Staying Healthy Throughout the Winter
The colder months are approaching, and with them come dark, cold and often uncosy days. This can have demotivating effects on physical movement, affect our mood and cause fatigue. We feel tired, sluggish and are more susceptible to a cold or infection. To protect us against these ailments, we need to strengthen our body’s immune defences.
We’ve put together some very helpful tips and tricks, to help you stay fit and healthy throughout the colder time of the year.
A strong immune system for the winter
With all the bacterias and viruses swirling around us, how does our body manage to protect itself? Thanks to our immune system, the majority of these bacteria will never affect us and go by unnoticed. However, colder temperatures that come with autumn, bring with them a hot spot of flu virus, presenting a challenge for our immune system. To prevent us falling ill, there are certain things we can do that will help protect us from or remedy these viruses.
Autumn blues and winter fatigue
The summer sun is gone and you might have a case of the autumn blues or even seasonal depression? This is not uncommon. Autumn blues can be a variety of things, such as struggling to get out of bed in the morning or completing mundane, everyday tasks. This condition can stay with us for a few months and can lead to winter fatigue.
Why does this happen? Well, it gets cold, grey and rainy outside which tends to dampen our motivation for physical activity. Furthermore, this atmosphere can influence our hormone balance. Compared to summer, where we are inundated with sunlight and warmth, the deficiency of UV light during dark and colder days results in a reduced production of happy hormone production (Serotonin and Dopamine). This influences both our mental and physical health, we feel ‘down’, have less physical movement and maybe also feel demotivated.
To keep both your mind and body fit during this season, you should try and make the following things a part of your regular routine:
Movement for anti-fatigue
All of us would prefer to spend the cold months in the warm and cosy indoors, instead of venturing out into the cold and wet. However, exercise plays a crucial role in keeping us fit and healthy, all year round, but especially during the winter. Physical activity strengthens our immune system and defences and also releases happiness hormones which helps fight winter fatigue!
Spending time outdoors is also important as an escape from heated rooms. Not only does stale bad air in the office or living room cause fatigue, it also dries out our mucous membranes and is often a breeding ground for pathogens.
Exercise: The key to a healthy winter
Brave the cold with exercise. Even if you don’t want to, try to get a couple of hours outside, even if the weather isn’t being a team player. This could be a walk in the park, a jog, or a bike ride. During autumn, getting out of the city can be beautifully scenic and a great opportunity to see the leaves change colour.
Winter offers a variety of fun physical activities such as ice skating, sledding or taking walks in the snow. Grab a friend or colleague and get going! The art of yoga is also a great way to boost your physical and mental health. Your batteries will feel recharged, your attitude will be positive and you’ll be ready for the tasks of the day.
Did you know that exercise can help give you glowing, youthful skin? The cold air in the winter increases your blood flow and gives you a nice wintery glow. Free anti-aging if you will…
Tip: Sign up to an exercise class or commit to an exercise routine with a friend to hold yourself accountable and also to have company!
Getting sufficient sleep is valuable and essential for our body. We can only have a productive day and feel refreshed, if we wake up feeling somewhat rested. The hormone melatonin plays a big role here. Melatonin is released when we sleep. If we are sleep deprived or have an irregular sleep schedule, the result is a melatonin deficiency. This can lead to irritability, mood swings, concentration issues, memory problems, physical fatigue and a weakening of the immune system. Furthermore, the risk of getting ill from things like cardio-vascular issues, asthma or psychological issues, increases. If our ability to concentrate is compromised, we react slower and run the risk of being exposed to dangerous situations.
Even though it might seem especially difficult, it is recommended to try and reduce our avoid caffeine intake. Caffeine can affect our sleep patterns and bring it out of balance. The same applies to alcohol and nicotine: the less you consume, the better.
Adults should aim to get between 6-8 hours of sleep every day to keep their immune system up and running and to try and circumvent winter fatigue. To support a regular sleep schedule, it is recommended to have a stable and consistent bedtime and alarm in the morning. Reading a book before bed or meditating is a great way to calm the mind before falling asleep. Read more about how to get a good nights sleep in our sleep guide.
Eating well during the winter
To stay healthy during the winter, it's very important to pay attention to a balanced and nutritious diet. You should try to cook with as many fresh and wholesome ingredients as possible. These will supply you with the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that you need. Fruit and vegetables should definitely not be left out. Seasonal produce like apples, pears, cabbage, lettuce, carrots, leek and spinach are all nutritious ingredients that you should eat plenty of.
In addition, Superfoods like citrus fruits, berries, nuts or ginger are a great source of necessary Vitamin C: an essential Vitamin to help fight off viruses and infections. Spicy food is also a great option because it warms you from the inside out.
Don’t forget: drinking enough water is also a part of a healthy diet. If water gets too boring for you, you can try so refreshing hacks or brew a tea with honey and lemon.
Tip: If you need a healthy meal fast, our ready made vegan bowls are a great source of important nutrients. Ready in just 10 minutes, they are the perfect support to keep your nutrition on track during the winter!
Supplements – Which vitamins and minerals are winter-essentials?
In addition to a healthy diet, supplements can be very effective in supporting our immune system and help us stay healthy throughout the winter.
The most necessary vitamin in the fight against colds and flus. Also a great supporter in recovery and should be consumed daily.
Vitamin D is normally absorbed through the sun. However, as we receive less daylight during the autumn and winter, we should supplement Vitamin D. In this way, we help maintain the healthy function of our immune system and thus prevent diseases. By the way, did you know that many people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency and that this can be the reason for low moods and even trigger seasonal depression
Not to be forgotten! Vitamin A facilitates the production of white blood cells and supports our immune system in the fight against pathogens, helping to protect our health during the winter
Vitamin B, E and Iron
Vitamin B lifts our energy levels, vitamin E helps protect from infection and improves our complexion. Iron helps regulate our body temperature and protects from winter fatigue.
Stay healthy and fit throughout the winter is very possible! Sufficient physical movement, sleep and a healthy diet are the key pillars to make this happen. To avoid or remedy winter fatigue and seasonal depression, try and spend time outdoors and select the right supplements to help boost your physical and emotional well being.
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