Women enjoying winter

How Does Winter Affect Your Health?

You may have noticed more people get ill during the colder winter months, is it a coincidence? Nope! Now we know this, let’s delve into how winter affects your health.

What are the physical risks?

  • People who suffer from asthma can have a real problem during the winter, cold air can trigger an attack. However, most people will be staying indoors so they’ll be fine right? Not necessarily, there’s potential exposure to dust, dander, and mould which can trigger attacks. 
  • Winter air is notorious for drying out skin causing rashes, flare-ups, irritation, winter eczema and more. It’s important to keep moisturised and if you feel like this alone isn’t enough, speak to your local healthcare professional, they will be more than happy to help.
  • Cold temperatures mean more people will be staying inside and not exercising which can lead to a weakened immune system making you more susceptible to illness. Being indoors means you aren’t as exposed to the elements and your immune systems starts to work less efficiently. Germs can spread easily indoors and when you’re immune system isn’t working correctly you’re more likely to fall ill.
  • Increased arthritic pain, during times of rain, cold weather and snow, the temperature drops and barometric pressure decreases. This may cause fluid in the joints to thicken making them stiffer. If you already have stiff joints you may be more sensitive to pain when moving, making arthritic pain seem worse. 

What are the mental risks?

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a type of depression which is associated with darker mornings, evenings, and foggy dull days. For most people, it begins in autumn and continues throughout winter. Some say light therapy helps but if you’re really struggling reach out to a mental health specialist
  • Christmas stress, this one will come as no surprise, all the hustle and bustle to get everything sorted and after this mess of a year, budgets may be tight. Let’s be honest, nobody likes saying ‘no’ to their kids over Christmas. A study by eBay compared Christmas shopping to running a marathon in terms of stress put on the body. Women and over 45’s being the most affected. 

How to stay healthy this winter

  • Keep moving! It’s essential to keep active, during the colder months even if you feel less motivated. Try low impact activities to keep your joints from aching; indoor swimming in a warm pool, yoga/pilates, brisk walk, and light weight training are all great activities.
  • Avoid winter weight gain! We’re all guilty of this one, especially when Christmas day arrives… On average people gain 1 pound but this is enough to start affecting your joints. If you feel like you’ve overdone it, don’t worry, the new year is just around the corner! Many health and wellness gyms will have discounts which have been made just for you. 
  • Eat a healthy diet, arguably this is important all year round but, even more so during winter. As mentioned before winter increases the likelihood of falling ill and maintaining a healthy diet is a sure way to ensure your body well equipped to deal with it. Eat a variety of fruits, veges, lean meats and whole grains. Try to avoid processed foods, foods high in sugar and saturated fat.
  • Drink plenty of water, hydration is always important especially in the winter months. Popular belief shows that drinking water in the hot, sunny summer weather is more important than in the cold winter. Which isn’t completely true, cold dry air can make you feel dehydrated, tired and achy. Try to aim for around 8 glasses of water per day. 
  • People who have SAD will want to get out in the sun as much as possible, noon or just after is when the sun is at it’s brightest. The sun helps to reduce the production of melatonin (sleepy chemical) and increase the production of serotonin (happy chemical). 

Don’t let winter get the better of you, we’ve been through a lot this year and deserve to celebrate its end!

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