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Cold-weather wellness: Tips for staying healthy this season

Staying healthy during colder months is the first step in making sure you can enjoy all the activities the season brings.

When you are indoors more during the fall and winter, you may be closer to other people. This can increase your chances of catching viruses that cause colds, the flu, or COVID-19. Dry winter air can also weaken natural mucus barriers in the nose, mouth, and lungs, where viruses can enter the body.

Get a flu shot

Each year, the seasonal flu sickens millions and causes thousands of hospitalizations and flu-related deaths in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. Flu vaccines are updated each year to best protect against new strains of the flu virus.

Reduce the spread

To help reduce the spread of the flu, colds, and other viruses, including COVID-19, you should:

  • Wash your hands frequently. It is the best way to protect yourself from catching illnesses.
  • Wipe down surfaces around you with a sanitizing cleaner.
  • Keep a distance from those who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay hydrated, so you can flush toxins out of your system.
  • Get enough sleep to keep your immune system strong.

Make nutritious choices

Eating a diet full of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains can also help you stay healthy during the colder months. Consider treats that will satisfy cravings but have less fat and added sugar, and also keep an eye on portion size. When making your food shopping list during the holidays, think about healthier alternatives to traditional comfort foods.

Stay active

Shorter days and colder weather may lead you to exercise less. But even moderate exercise, like a brisk walk, raking leaves, or climbing stairs, can help. Physical activity can help you maintain or lose weight, reduce anxiety, lower blood pressure, and improve your quality of sleep.

Source: NIH MedlinePlus Magazine

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