Winter is just around the corner and as the temperatures drop, it can become more challenging to stay healthy and active. Seniors can be especially prone to the “winter blues,” so it’s more important than ever to be mindful of your habits and mood during the colder months. Exercise is a proven mood-booster, and eating healthy can help you feel strong enough to fight off those winter colds.
Below are 5 easy ways to stay healthy during the winter months.
During the winter months, it can be more challenging to maintain a healthy diet. Since many produce items are “out of season” during the winter, their prices can increase substantially. Take this opportunity to check out your store’s selection of frozen veggies, which often contain less sodium than their canned counterparts. Be sure to stock up on winter fruits and vegetables, like pomegranates, cranberries, citrus fruits, grapes, and root vegetables. It’s also important to eat to support your immune system; this includes taking your vitamins (especially Vitamin C) and eating foods rich in zinc, such as fish, oysters, poultry, and eggs.
If you’re able-bodied and have your doctor’s okay to exercise, don’t let colder weather keep you from enjoying your favorite outdoor activities. Be sure to dress in layers so that you can remove articles of clothing as needed, and be sure to wear a hat since the majority of your body heat escapes through your head. Don’t forget your sunscreen and sunglasses with UV protection, and protect yourself from windburn as well. Be smart about checking the weather forecast and wear the proper footwear for the season.
Sunshine, and the Vitamin D it imparts to your body, is key in battling the winter blues. Try your best to get fresh air and some natural light every day, even if it’s just to walk the dog or check the mail. If it’s particularly cold, open your blinds and spend some time sitting by the window. Don’t underestimate the value of light and sunshine in helping your energy level and your overall winter attitude.
Seniors and caregivers often face an increasing sense of isolation; proactively fight the winter blues by keeping in touch with friends and family members during the colder months. Make appointments to meet for coffee, take a bundled-up walk, or set aside time for a longer phone call with friends on a regular basis. Take special care of others you know who are primarily homebound, and may be feeling lonely or in need of help running errands. Helping others is an excellent way to feel connected.
As we age, it gets increasingly difficult to maintain body temperature, and with a more limited budget, we may be tempted to scrimp on the heating bill. Unfortunately, hypothermia is a very real concern for seniors, as more than 600 seniors die every year from it. An easy way to ensure you are staying warm enough is to set your thermostat to at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit (many utility companies offer assistance to seniors on fixed incomes during the winter months on their bills). It’s always a great idea to have working carbon monoxide detectors in the home, especially if you use space heaters.
With a little planning and determination, winter can be truly enjoyed, rather than simply endured. Prioritize your health and well-being, body and mind, and you can make the most of the cold season.
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