'It's getting cold outside these days which means winter is coming which means I'll probably get sick soon..!'
Who is guilty of having these types of thoughts when temperatures are starting to drop and snow appears on the ground?
Winter season is also known as 'cold or flu season'. It is extremely common to hear about a lot of people getting sick during the colder months of Fall and the beginning of Winter. Some research has been done to explain the phenomenon without any precise or conclusive results but here are a few facts to take in consideration that might explain why cold and flu viruses are much more present during the long months of winter:
Lower temperatures favorable to virus stability
Immune system often weakened during winter temperatures
More frequent groups of people in closed spaces, which facilitates the transmission of the virus
Frequent temperature changes between cold and hot, which can affect the inner balance of the body
Decrease in the number of hours of sunlight, which also affects the immune system
Being sick means your energy levels are low, you're tired, not productive, not motivated to do anything, have a hard time concentrating, etc. Nobody wants that, right? Especially when your work schedule is busy, when you have a family to take care of and when you want to keep working hard in the gym to achieve your fitness goals!
With that being said, let's see how we can avoid this as much as possible.
Unfortunately, we don't have control over outside temperatures, but we can play on several other components to strengthen our immune system and thus fight winter viruses. A strong immune system and a healthy body will protect you against viruses and bacterias and get you ready to face Winter and stay healthy during the cold season.
So here are some tips to arm your body and prepare it to resist illness:
- Take a daily vitamin D supplement; the only way to get a decent level of Vitamin D absorption is thanks to the sun! Since the daylight is quite reduced during the winter months and our bodies are a lot more covered in warm clothes, it's extremely hard to get enough sun exposure daily. A good Vitamin D supplement will do the trick!
- Eat a diet rich in probiotics, vitamins and minerals; try to increase the amount of fruits, vegetables and foods rich in probiotics (kefir, kombucha, yogourt, apple cider vinegar, etc.) in your diet.
- Eat a diet rich in sources of healthy fats; think avocados, seeds, nuts, olive oil, coconut, etc.
- Avoid processed food or food high in sugar; stay away from cookies, pastries, fast foods, sugary drinks, etc.
- Exercise regularly; to strengthen your body, your immune system, to release 'feel good' hormones, to balance your stress levels.
- Wash your hands often and maintain a good general hygiene; a virus will spread through germs so make sure to keep your environment nice and clean.
- Avoid places with high pollution levels; get some fresh air in nature as often as you can!
- Keep a good air quality in your home; open the windows from time to time!
- Decrease and manage your daily stress; stress is the cause of many (many!) illnesses and diseases. High levels of cortisol - which is the stress hormone, will weaken your body. The energy overused to manage your daily stress is energy that you should be using to fight germs and stay healthy. Use helpful strategies (working out, meditation, breathing exercises, reading, spa, etc.) to help reduce your stress.
- Avoid smoking and moderate your alcohol intake; having toxins in your body can weaken your system and attract even more toxins.
- Focus on quality sleep; aim for 7-8h of sleep per night. If that's impossible, try to take 20 minutes powernaps during the day.
- Aim for a healthy and balanced lifestyle all year round! Which is the most important; the healthier your habits and lifestyle are, the stronger your immune system will be and the more equipped you will be to face Winter or changes of temperature.
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