Enjoying a Warm and Healthy Winter
The height of winter is fast-approaching, and while the north of Australia may experience a less harsher winter than the south, we’ll all still be wrapping up with a few more layers of clothing and dusting off our hearty soup and casserole recipes. Despite it being the easy option to spend the entire season indoors, hibernating until the sun makes a stronger appearance, it’s wise to embrace the change. From nutrition to exercise, here’s how to keep yourself or an aging loved one both warm and healthy as winter takes over.
Stave off the seasonal colds/flu
Winter is well-known as the season of colds and flu, and seniors, whether in aged care or not, can be a particularly vulnerable group to these viruses. Whether you’re a sprightly 65 year old or not, everyday interactions in public spaces where the heat is cranked up and windows most often kept closed can become a fast breeding ground for all sorts of germs. While we can’t keep 100% of all germs away we can do our best to help our bodies fight any nasties that we come into contact with.
Both good hygiene practises and an extra vitamin boost can help keep bouts of cold or flu away. Take care to wash your hands after holding onto escalator railings, shopping trolleys or pushing the buttons on a card machine (public spaces that thousands, or even millions are in touch with everyday), will help remove germs picked up during the day. Additionally, a flu shot and/or daily vitamin will keep your immune system boosted and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.
Don’t hibernate too much
The cold weather certainly makes it tough to get outdoors and into the fresh air, but keeping up a regular exercise routine will keep both your health up and your spirits high. Exercise is known to help lower blood pressure, keep one’s body fit, and get the endorphins flowing, and while low temperatures may make it more difficult to step outside, the fresh air can do you the world of good.
It may involve paying more attention to the weather, and setting a reminder (or two), but stepping outside for a relaxed walk during a sunny or clear patch will help you get that much needed breath of fresh air. Even if it’s a once a week walk with a friend, it’s the perfect way to get the activity in, and maybe even some vitamin D. If you are unable to walk, ask your carer or a family member to help you sit outside for some time when the sun peeps out from the clouds.
Enjoy a seasonal, but nutritional diet
The winter season brings not only weather changes but also offers up an array of nutritional and delicious fruits and vegetables different to those found in summer. Australia is home to an array of fruits in winter that offer all the right vitamins and minerals to keep us going in during the colder months. From the staple apple high in fibre and vitamin C, and pears that contain numerous antioxidants as well as vitamin C and K, to the kiwi fruit, high in potassium and antioxidants. While seasonal vegetables include broccoli, high in fibre, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6, zinc and beta-carotene, spinach, a great source of iron, calcium and magnesium, and turnips, loaded with fibre, vitamins K, C, E and A, and calcium.
Choosing to include these and other seasonal fruits and vegetables in your diet not only keeps your immune system strong and your body healthy, but also helps your pocket as seasonal foods are often cheaper in price due to being readily available. Whether you are still able to cook, or need to enlist the help of a friend, family member or carer, you can pack a number of seasonal ingredients in to your favourite soups, casseroles, breakfast bowls and even desserts.
Don’t let winter force you into hibernation for the season. From mood-boosting outdoor walks, hearty winter meals packed with seasonal ingredients, and the extra help of a flu shot, daily vitamin and good hygiene, you can have a warm, enjoyable and healthy winter.