Winter health tips
When it’s cold, it can be hard to be motivated to keep fit and healthy, but keeping well doesn’t have to be a chore.
When we’re exposed to the cold we’re often less motivated to get out and about, especially if that involves exercise. But we need to keep moving. Being exposed to the cold for a long time could mean a blood pressure rise, which means you could be at risk of a heart attack or stroke. So, to help you stay well, it’s important to keep warm and lead a (reasonably) healthy lifestyle.
Staying active is not only essential for your general wellbeing and fitness – it also generates heat to help you keep warm. Here's our top tips for keeping moving:
- When you’re indoors, try not to sit still for more than an hour. Get up and walk around and spread out any chores throughout the day.
- If walking is difficult you can do chairbased exercises while sitting or holding on to the back of a chair. Even moving your arms and legs and wiggling your toes can help you keep warm.
- You can watch videos online that demonstrate chair-based exercises by visting the NHS Choices website.
- You can also find exercise classes at your local Age UK.
Hot meals and drinks help to keep you warm, so eat at least one hot meal each day and enjoy your tea and hot chocolates. Top tips for eating well:
- Having a hot drink before going to bed and keeping one in a flask by your bedside are good ideas.
- Include a good range of foods in your diet (a variety of colours is a good guide for variety) and aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, so that you’re getting plenty of nutrients and vitamins. Frozen vegetables are as good as fresh.
- It’s important to eat enough, especially in winter. Not eating enough and becoming underweight is bad for your health, it can make it more difficult to keep warm and fight infections. If you’re worried about a poor appetite or losing weight, speak to your GP.
Take care when driving
If you absolutely have to drive in bad weather, make sure you allow extra time for your journey. Tell someone your destination and when you expect to arrive there. Always charge your mobile phone fully before you set off and make sure you take warm clothes, boots, food, water, a torch and a spade in case you need them.
Keep your spirits up
It’s not unusual to feel down in winter – particularly when the days are short, it gets dark earlier and less people are up for socialising. Try to keep to your usual routine and if you can’t visit friends or family, make sure you phone or Skype them regularly for a chat.
If you’re feeling lonely contact your local Age UK to see if they offer friendship services. If there’s no local services and you’re interested in a weekly telephone friendship call, contact the national Call in Time Service at Age UK on 0800 434 6105 to find out more.
It helps to do something you enjoy every day. If you can and it’s not too cold, go for a short walk in the middle of the day, or at least go outside while there is daylight. There may be local classes or social groups you can attend. Check your local community centre or library noticeboard or contact your local Age UK to find out what opportunities there are in your area.
If you feel down for several weeks and it’s stopping you going out or making you feel lethargic and lacking in energy, it’s very important to share these feelings with someone, perhaps a friend or your GP. For more information see our free guide Your mind matters, below. Feeling blue is not a natural part of ageing.