6 Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy This Winter
It’s the time of year when common illnesses hit families. The cold weather forces people inside together where viruses spread more quickly. Not only do COVID-19 variants continue to apply, but other illnesses like strep throat, flu, and colds thrive. While families can’t prevent the spread of all germs, certain habits and practices can add preventative measures.
Patients often ask about ways to avoid sickness and stay healthy. As healthcare practitioners, we recommend a healthy lifestyle to keep in top shape throughout the year. However, during the winter flu and cold season, we offer a few reminders of strengthening the immune system and defending yourself against illness.
Six Tips for Better Health During the Winter Months
1. Good Nutrition and Hydration
One key to staying healthy is eating well and drinking enough water. Eating nutritious foods and getting adequate hydration help boost immunity. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals the body needs. Plus, good hydration helps keep mucus thin and clear, so it drains out of your nose and sinuses.
Vitamin D supplements offer extra support for the immune system when the days are shorter. Unlike in warmer months, where the sun provides vitamin D, our bodies often don’t receive enough sunlight during the winter.
2. Wash Hands
The most effective way to protect your family from catching an illness is by washing hands frequently with soap and warm water. Washing hands before meals, after using the bathroom, and after touching contaminated surfaces helps reduce the risk of spreading germs.
Especially for school-aged children, teaching handwashing can promote wellness and avoid certain illnesses like stomach bugs, which spread through touch. So, make sure kids wash their hands after going to the bathroom and before they eat or play.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is essential for maintaining energy levels and boosting immunity. Adults need seven to eight hours each night, while teenagers require nine to 10 hours. Children under age five need 11 to 12 hours of sleep each day.
Getting enough sleep also improves mood and concentration, which benefits learning and physical health. Kids who sleep less than six hours per night have higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and ADHD.
4. Get Vaccinated
The COVID-19 vaccines are now available for people ages five and older, with boosters available for those 12 and older. However, COVID isn’t the only illness to avoid this winter. It’s not too late to schedule a flu vaccine for your family. If you haven’t already done so, talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated for influenza and COVID-19.
5. Improve Indoor Air Quality
The air quality inside most homes is worse than the outdoor air quality. With all the dust, dirt, pollen, mold spores, pet dander, and smoke particles floating around indoors, the air your family breathes can lead to health issues like allergies and asthma. That makes it easier for bacteria and viruses to thrive in the home environment.
To improve indoor air quality, regularly change the HVAC air filters, dust, and clean air vents.
Regular exercise boosts immunity and helps prevent chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Exercise also reduces stress and strengthens muscles, bones, and joints.
Keep your body healthy by staying active. Not only will exercise increase your energy level and sleep but it’s also tied to improved emotional health.
Stay Healthy This Winter
Make sure you’re taking care of yourself this winter. It’s essential to take extra time for healthy habits in winter months.
At Founders Family Medicine, we promote the health of our community. We offer preventative care, like vaccines and well-kid visits. We also offer urgent care appointments both in-person and telehealth. Contact us to schedule an appointment.