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5 ways to stay healthy this winter - Healthily

Medical reviewer: Dr Ann Nainan
Last reviewed: 04/12/2020
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our editorial policy

It may be cold outside, but winter doesn’t need to be an unhealthy time of year for you and your family.

Here are 5 ways to make sure that, even when your body is telling you to hibernate, you can keep healthy and fit, no matter what the weather's like.

How to stay healthy

Prevent winter tiredness

Many people feel tired and sluggish during the winter months. This is often due to the lack of sunlight, which disrupts your sleep and waking cycle.

To help reduce tiredness, try to:

  • get outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible
  • get a good night's sleep – go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
  • de-stress with exercise or meditation – stress has been shown to make you feel tired

Eat more fruit and vegetables

When it's cold and dark outside, it can be tempting to fill up on unhealthy comfort food.

However, it's important to follow a healthy diet and eat 5 portions of different fruit and vegetables each day.

If you find yourself craving a sugary snack, try a juicy orange instead.

Winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, swede and turnips are also good options. They can be roasted, mashed or made into soup for a comforting winter meal for the whole family.

It’s worth exploring varieties of fruit and vegetables that you may not normally eat.

Eat dairy foods or dairy alternatives

You’re more likely to get a cold in winter, so make sure your immune system is as strong as possible.

Milk and dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt are great sources of:

  • protein
  • vitamins A and B12
  • calcium, which helps keep your bones strong

If you’re lactose intolerant or don’t eat dairy foods, there are many alternatives you can try. These include soya milk and soya yoghurt, almond milk, rice milk and coconut milk.

Try new activities

Don't use the cold winter months as an excuse to stay in and sit around. Instead, try to get outside with friends or family to try a new activity.

You could try ice skating, taking a walk on the beach or in the countryside, or play football in your local park.

Regular exercise helps control your weight, boost your immune system, and is a good way to break the tension that can build if you live with others and spend long periods of time in the house.

Have a healthy, balanced breakfast

Porridge is a good option during the colder months. Eating a warm bowlful on a cold morning isn't just a delicious way to start your day, it also helps boost your intake of starchy foods and fibre.

Start your day with a balanced meal that includes foods high in fibre, such as wholemeal bread, fruit or oats, and protein, such as baked beans or eggs.

A breakfast that includes these foods will give you energy and help you feel fuller for longer, stopping the temptation to snack during the morning. Oats also contain vital vitamins and minerals.

If you have oats or breakfast cereal, have it with semi-skimmed, 1% or skimmed milk or water, and don't add sugar or salt. Instead, add a sliced banana, berries or other fruit for extra flavour and to help you eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Key points

  • you can reduce tiredness by getting outdoors in natural daylight as much as possible, getting a good night's sleep, finding ways to de-stress with exercise or meditation if you’re stressed
  • eat more fruit and vegetables
  • eat dairy foods or dairy alternatives to help your immune system
  • eat a balanced diet

References:

  1. Physical Activity and Sleep Quality - Sleep Foundation [Internet]. Sleep Foundation. 2020 [cited 6 October 2020]. Available here.
  2. Fatigue [Internet]. Nhsinform.scot. 2020 [cited 6 October 2020]. Available here.
  3. Healthy breakfasts (for people who hate breakfast) - Your.MD [Internet]. Your.MD. 2020 [cited 6 October 2020]. Available here.
Content supplied byNHS Logonhs.uk
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Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.

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