Staying healthy during the winter months can be challenging, particularly this year. Wearing a mask and social distancing can help keep you safe from the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as germs that cause other common illnesses. Here are 8 tips to keep you and your family in good health this winter.
- Wash your hands – Frequent and thorough hand washing is one of the most important things you can do to stay healthy. It removes germs that cause a variety of illnesses including COVID-19, influenza, norovirus and the common cold. To wash, wet your hands with clean, running water, apply soap and create a lather by rubbing your hands together and scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. When you’re done, rinse your hands and dry them completely. If soap and clean water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol to kill germs.
- Clean and Disinfect Surfaces – It’s important to frequently clean and disinfect high-touch areas like phones, counters, doorknobs and light switches to reduce the spread of germs. First clean any visibly dirty surfaces with soap and water, then disinfect using a product approved by the EPA to kill COVID-19. Follow the instructions on the label to ensure safety and effectiveness.
- Eat Right – The foods you eat can have a big impact on your immune system. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, zinc and selenium – all of which help to boost your immune system. You want to eat a variety of foods – the more colorful the better – think red, yellow, orange, blue and green fruits and vegetables. A healthy diet should also include whole grains and lean protein. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water each day to stay hydrated.
- Get Enough Sleep – People who get enough sleep get sick less often. Adults need seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night to keep healthy. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or if you don’t feel rested after a full night of sleep, talk to your doctor.
- Exercise – When you’re out of shape your body has to work harder to fight off illness. Exercise can help to keep your body in tip-top shape. You may not want to work out at the gym due to the risk of COVID-19, but there are many other ways to exercise. Outdoor exercises like running, walking and biking can be done year-round, weather permitting, and lend themselves well to social distancing. You could also add some fun winter activities into the mix like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or ice skating. If you prefer to stay indoors there are a number of online fitness programs to use.
- Get Routine Medical Care – At the beginning of the pandemic, many routine health visits were cancelled or delayed, but now public health officials are warning against further delay. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports delaying or avoiding medical care might increase a person’s chance of dying from both chronic and acute health conditions. If you missed any routine screenings due to the pandemic, make it a priority to see your doctor now.
- Get vaccinated – There’s an urgent effort underway to get people vaccinated against COVID-19, and it will be important for everyone to get the vaccine when it becomes available to them. In the meantime, make sure you are up to date on your other vaccinations. Get a flu shot if you haven’t already. Health experts recommend everyone over six months old should get a flu shot this year to prevent additional stress on the health care system in the midst of a massive surge in COVID-19 cases. In addition, the CDC recommends the pneumococcal vaccine for adults over 65 and those with certain health conditions. Pneumococcal disease causes a number of illnesses, some of which, like pneumonia, can be life-threatening.
- Bundle up – Many people plan to spend more time outdoors this winter to reduce the risk of COVID-19 while visiting family and friends, but the cold weather can make outdoor gatherings dangerous. Prolonged exposure to extremely cold temperatures can cause frostbite and hypothermia. Dress in layers to stay warm. Wear a hat, scarf, mittens, wool socks and waterproof shoes or boots to keep your extremities safe from the cold.