Easy Ways To Winterize Your Health Routines

With the winter months well on their way, many of us are preparing for colder temperatures, shorter days and maybe even a little snow. However, these winter changes don’t have to put a freeze on your health routines.

Keep in mind, though, that the winter months do have quite a big impact on our bodies. Ranging from your heart, to your joints, to your cravings and everything in between, colder temperatures can take their toll. But the good news is, there are simple changes we can make to ensure that we are healthy—inside and out—all winter long.

So…you may be wondering, what are some of the most important pre-winter changes? These include easy ways to keep your exercise habits in tip-top shape, tips to avoid over-drying your skin and simple things you can do to avoid the flu.

Avoid the Chill, Exercise with Skill

Cold is a stress on the body, and so is exercise. Together they may be too much for some, especially those who are not established in their workout routine. To ensure safety while exercising during the winter, make sure to:
  • Invest in the proper clothing: While it is difficult to strike the right balance between overheating—which is possible during the winter—and feeling cold, layering is the best option. Layering allows for the regulation of your temperature, adaptability and ensures safety throughout your entire workout routine. Clothing shouldn’t stop at shirts and pants, remember to wear a hat and gloves to avoid losing extra heat.
  • Don’t forget fluids: If you can see your breath, you're seeing moisture leave your body. So drink plenty of fluids, particularly if the air is cold and dry. Drink water before you go out, and bring some with you. Don't drink alcohol though. Alcohol makes you lose heat.
  • Give muscles a chance to warm up: Stretching before exercising is always important, but even more so when it gets cold.
  • Don’t downplay frostbite: If the weather is particularly cold, it's probably too cold for you to exercise outdoors. If you do have to go out in extreme cold, cover all exposed skin to prevent frostbite.
  • Know the additional risks of exercising in cold weather: On its own, cold air doesn't damage the lungs. Even very cold air is warmed to body temperature by the time it hits the lungs. Keep in mind, though, that for some people with asthma, cold air can trigger an attack. Furthermore, individuals with diabetes, who take certain medications, or who are older adults are at greater risk that their body temperature will drop in cold weather.

Nurture Your Skin, Don’t Neglect It

Winter is hard on everyone’s skin, especially those who are already prone to dry skin. However, there are easy ways to avoid the most common causes of over-drying. These include:
  • Nip those long showers in the bud: With cold weather outside, taking long, hot showers is a favorite of many; however, excess time in the shower comes at a steep price for your skin. Often times, hot water will deprive your skin of its natural oils, as well as exacerbate inflammation and irritation, all of which will further dry out skin.
  • Moisturize at the right time: One of the most important times to moisturize your skin is right after your shower—which is ideally only lasting 5-10 minutes. During showers, the warm water opens skin’s pores making it easier for your skin to absorb lotion.
  • Be picky, not all moisturizers are created equal: During the winter months, utilizing the thickness of a moisturizing cream or the nutrients of an ointment or natural oil, instead of lotion will make a real difference. Keep an eye on the ingredients as well; utilize products that have alpha hydroxy acid, vitamin A and are fragrance free.
  • Snuggle up in soft fabrics: While wool and other synthetic fabrics can be extra cozy with cold temperatures, these can be rough and hard on your skin. Opt for cotton or other soft, breathable fabrics.

A Simple Way to Keep the Flu Away
Your immune health throughout the winter can use all the help it can get. With bugs and germs of all types, it’s important to promote immune health throughout the winter. However, the best way to prevent the flu bug—far and away—is to get your flu shot. In addition to your flu shot, other flu prevention techniques include:
  • Get your scrub on: Wash your hands, frequently, especially before eating or touching your face and/or mouth. You don't need special cleansers when washing your hands. However, remember to wash for at least 20 seconds with soap.
  • Welcome the humidity: The flu bug exists in higher quantities in dry nasal and oral passages, which is one reason why flu epidemics occur in dry winter months. Raise the humidity in your workplace and at home to keep your nasal passages and mouth moist. Your body will then be better able to flush out the flu bug.
  • Keep surfaces squeaky clean: The flu virus is often spread through the touching of objects on which droplets have landed. To keep surfaces at work and at home free of germs, use a solution of 1 part bleach and 10 parts water.

Navigating all the changes our body’s go through during the winter months can be overwhelming. Especially when we consider all the unique health needs we each have. To ensure that you not only survive the winter, but truly thrive, Gwinnett Medical Group physicians offer a wide-variety of services to help you and your entire family. From Ears, Nose and Throat (ENT) and family medicine to pediatrics, the compassionate experts of GMG will ensure you receive the best care possible.

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