Cold temperatures often bring stuffy noses, coughs, and more trips to the doctor. American adults get two to three colds per year, but winter can also increase your risk for the flu, pneumonia, and bacterial infections. This is why it’s important to take extra steps to keep your family healthy this season.
If you’re looking for more ways to boost immunity and keep sickness away, try these winter wellness tips.
Get your flu shot
The flu vaccine is the best defense against seasonal influenza. You can usually receive the vaccination for little to no cost at your doctor’s office or local pharmacy. Since the shot takes about two weeks to boost your immunity, be sure to get it as early in the season as possible. This is especially important for older adults, pregnant women, and young children. However, healthy adults can help protect more vulnerable populations by receiving an annual immunization as well. If you have any questions about the shot, be sure to talk to your doctor.
Wash your hands frequently
Viruses and bacteria often enter your body through your nose, eyes, and mouth. So, you can easily get sick from touching your face throughout the day. Since this is hard to avoid, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and often. Get your hands squeaky clean by lathering up and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. If you have young kids, singing the “Happy Birthday” song can help them get the timing right. While alcohol-based sanitizers offer a solution in a pinch, these products are not as effective as soap and water at eliminating germs.
Check your insurance plan
Winter is not the time to take chances with your insurance plan. You want to make sure that your coverage has your back in the event of a health emergency or serious illness. If you’re in-between jobs or taking time to travel through the holidays, look into short-term insurance. While the specifics vary by state, this coverage lasts for up to a year and is generally renewable for up to 36 months. You can also set up month-to-month coverage. Whether you are pregnant seeing your obstetrician or taking your child to the ER with a fever, your family can enjoy peace of mind through the season.
Eat a balanced diet
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can give your immune system a much-needed power-up this winter. Foods like apples and broccoli are high in fiber, which reduces inflammation and boosts your immunity. Anything rich in vitamin C, like oranges and root vegetables, can also help support your body’s virus-fighting abilities. Cooking these items into soups and stews will give you a nourishing meal to warm you up. The key is to fill your plate, or bowl, with a colorful selection of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and protein.
It can feel impossible to go for a walk or drag yourself to the gym when it’s cold out. However, doing so can help your body fight viruses and bacteria. Regular exercise helps your body’s production of white blood cells, flushes out the lungs, and controls the release of stress hormones. All of these factors keep your immune system in top shape. Physical activity can also boost your mood, fighting feelings of seasonal depression. Daily walks, exercise classes, and indoor swimming are just a few ways to get moving.
Winter is a time to gather with family, enjoy outdoor activities, and savor quiet time at home. Colds, the flu, and other illnesses can get in the way of this seasonal goodness. By making your health a priority this season, you can fully take advantage of all that the cold weather has to offer.