The do's and don'ts of winter health

Eight ways to stay healthy when the temperature starts to drop
By Dayna Boyer
The do's and don'ts of winter health

Although you may feel like hibernating during the colder months, that's no reason to neglect your health. Now that cold and flu season is upon us it is even more important to safeguard your health. Health Canada says that 4,000 to 8,000 people die every year from pneumonia related to the flu. Don't let the cold weather put you out of commission this winter, here are eight simple ways to stay healthy once the snow falls.

Do wash your hands
When cold season hits, everyone is looking for that magical secret to avoid sickness. Washing your hands is one of them. Hand washing is the best way to stop the spread of communicable disease, so make a concerted effort to wash your hands before eating or touching your face – especially after spending time on public transit and in shopping malls.

Do drinks lots of fluids
In the winter we tend to drink more hot liquids like coffee and tea, however both of these drinks have caffeine in them which draws water out of your body, warns Manitoba Health. The average Canadian should drink between six and eight cups of water daily.

Do exercise frequently
With shorter daylight hours, winter is an energy-zapping season. To combat that, daily exercise is great for your circulation and energy levels. Plus 20 minutes of physical activity a day will help ward off those winter pounds so bathing suit season will be much easier to welcome when it rolls around.

Do get at least eight hours of sleep
Most Canadians are not getting the recommended eight hours of sleep most nights and this can be detrimental to a person's energy level and immune system during the winter months. The Canadian Sleep Society recommends establishing a relaxing bedtime routine, and avoiding alcohol and nicotine for a restful night's sleep.

Don't skimp on vitamin D
Canadians [are] at risk of not getting enough vitamin D during winter months when the UV radiation from the sun's rays are weak, according to the Canadian Cancer Society. They recommend Canadians take a vitamin D supplement of 200 IU if they're 50 years old or younger. Vitamin D has been linked to healthy bones and may reduce the risk of some types of cancer.

Don't forget to moisturize
That winter wind sure wreaks havoc on our skin, so the best beauty secret is to moisturize moisturize moisturize. Everything from your hair to your skin starts to feel scaly so stock up on thick luxurious moisturizers and don't forget that chapstick! Also, if you're suffering from the sniffles, splurge on moisturized tissues – your nose will thank you.

Don't get trapped eating only comfort food
When the wind is howling outside, many of us fall back on carb- and fat-heavy comfort food like pasta dishes and creamy soups. However, this will not only impede your weight loss goals but also leave you feeling lethargic and sleepy. So break out of your food rut by browsing Chatelaine's recipe file for a little inspiration.

Don't overlook sunscreen
Summer is not the only time to worry about slathering on sunscreen. Surprisingly, skin damage is still a concern even in a snowsuit. Health Canada recommends wearing at least an SPF 15 when outdoors in the winter. The glare from snow can be so harmful that they also suggest wearing sunglasses.


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