5 Tips for Staying Healthy in the Winter

Submitted by Loretto

Upstate New York gets cold in the winter— award-winning cold. Syracuse and Buffalo have been winners of the Golden Snowball Awards since the 1940s. But the extreme weather can be challenging for older adults.

Loretto offers the following tips to manage your health this winter:

1. Stay hydrated.

It’s easy to forget to drink enough liquid when we barely break a sweat for days. Tea is a great alternative, and studies have shown that plant chemicals and antitoxins in black and green tea have health benefits. Avoid sugary drinks, though, because high sugar intake can lead to other health issues such as high blood sugar or diabetes.

2. Be mindful of your diet.

Consider adding fruits and vegetables to every meal. Fruits like oranges and kiwi in season during the winter are great ways to start the day. And don’t forget to eat enough protein and fiber. The goal is to cut back on big, rich meals, but your body always needs enough nutrition.

3. Move more, sit less.

The American Heart Association emphasizes that light activities, even just five or 10 minutes a day, can increase blood flow in the body and help prevent heart disease. The AHA also recommends breaking up long periods of sitting as often as possible. It can be as simple as walking from one room to another or standing to read the newspaper, a magazine or the rest of this article.

4. Get vaccinated

Our immune system weakens as we get older and make us more vulnerable to infections. With flu season each winter, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases recommends older adults getting the flu shot and stay up to date on other vaccines throughout the year.

5. Watch out for the “winter blues”

If your energy level took a nose-dive along with the temperature, the reason may be more serious than you think. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — or the “Winter Blues” — affects about 5% of adults in the US. This is why social activities are important for our mental health, especially during the long, winter months.

The American Psychiatric Association recommends spending time connecting with someone. A nice conversation with a friend or loved one can lift your spirits. In-person interactions are preferred, but phone or video calls are also helpful.