Why retired Canadians should aim to stay healthy this winter
As the second wave of COVID-19 sweeps through the country, it is more important than ever for Canadian retirees to stay healthy and fit this winter. While staying healthy is often a priority for most people every winter, it may be even more of an important consideration given that we are in the midst of a pandemic. Older adults are already at a higher risk of experiencing serious health complications from coronavirus and the addition of cold and flu season is likely to exacerbate those concerns for older Canadians and their caregivers.
Finding the motivation to stay healthy in winter when the days are shorter and colder can be challenging. This can result in a weakened immune system which increases your vulnerability to winter-related illnesses or injuries, some of which you may not even be aware of. While the viral threats may be escalated this winter, you should still approach your health by using many of the same strategies you would rely on during a typical year. Fortunately, there are a number of winter health tips you can follow to ensure you stay safe, healthy and fit during the holiday season and beyond.
12 tips to stay healthy and fit in winter for older Canadians
The winter months are usually a time when our immune systems take a hit and the symptoms of cold and flu become increasingly prevalent. The good news is that there are several ways you can be more mindful of your health in winter. Staying healthy in winter is fundamental to experiencing the best quality of life possible. Take a closer look at some of the best tips for Canadians to stay healthy which include ways to stay fit at home, the best foods to eat in winter to stay healthy and some general winter health tips for older adults:
- Wash your hands: One of the best ways to stay healthy in winter is to remember to wash your hands. Since the start of the pandemic, hand washing has been strongly encouraged for good reason. While it may seem like a no brainer, it is one of the most effective ways to kill viruses and bacteria that are passed onto you and prevent these germs from spreading. The proper way to wash your hands is to wet your hands with warm water, apply soap and rub together for at least 20 seconds. This includes scrubbing the palms, the backs of the hands, in-between the fingers and underneath the nails. Rinse off well and dry thoroughly with a paper towel.
- Get your flu shot: While the flu will usually run its course, it can make some people, particularly older adults and expectant mothers, seriously ill. That is why it is extremely important for everyone, especially those who are most vulnerable, to get their flu shots every year. The flu vaccine is a free, safe, and effective way to protect yourself and other people who are at risk of flu complications. A good tip for older Canadians to stay healthy in winter is to get the flu shot in early autumn before the flu virus starts to spread.
- Maintain a healthy diet: Eating a well-balanced diet is important no matter the time of year. However, there are special dietary considerations you should keep in mind during the winter months. While colder temperatures are synonymous with indulging in our favourite comfort foods, these foods are usually loaded with sugar, salt and fat. Instead, try having a bowl of low-sodium, broth-based soup which is much healthier and equally as comforting as something that may be more indulgent. While fresh produce may be harder to come by in the winter, fruits and vegetables such as apples, beets, carrots and mushrooms will be in season. In a pinch, check out the freezer section of your grocery store as frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts.
- Take advantage of herbs and spices: Adding spices to your food such as cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cumin and oregano, is not only an effective way to add flavour to your dishes but they can help improve digestion, reduce inflammation and also contain many anti-bacterial properties which can give your immune system a much-needed boost in the winter. Other foods that can help improve immune function include onions, garlic and cilantro.
- Keep hydrated: In order to keep your digestion strong and stay healthy in winter, it is important to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. Fluids, in particular water, are just as important to consume in the winter as they are in the summer season. If you are feeling fatigued or have dry skin, these signs may indicate that you’re not getting enough water. Understandably, you may not feel like drinking cold water in the winter, so another option is to opt for herbal teas which will not only keep you warm but also provide several antioxidant benefits.
- Take vitamin D: In the winter, many Canadians don’t get enough natural vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that can help us ward off a range of diseases including Seasonal Affective Disorder, multiple sclerosis and even certain types of cancers. To ensure you are getting an adequate amount of this vitamin per day, include more fish into your diet like salmon and low-fat milk, which is also enriched with vitamin D. Additionally, taking a vitamin D supplement is an even easier way of making sure you keep your vitamin D levels in an optimum range.
- Take a multivitamin supplement: In addition to including more vitamin D into your diet, taking a high-quality multivitamin supplement can also help give your immune system the boost it needs to keep you feeling good. An effective multi-vitamin supplement should include vitamins A and C, as well as minerals such as zinc, magnesium, selenium and amino acids. While a multivitamin should not solely be used in place of a healthy diet and active lifestyle, it can help support the body when taken properly.
- Stay active: Winter can be a challenging period to keep up with your exercise routine, as the cold weather can be a major deterrent for getting outside to do some physical activities. If going outdoors for exercise is not an option, try doing an indoor workout. These days, there are several free at-home workouts you can follow on platforms such as YouTube or other websites, even if you don’t own gym equipment. Regular exercise can boost your immune system, decrease your stress levels and help you manage your weight during the winter months.
- Get adequate sleep: Making sure your body gets enough sleep is extremely beneficial for every organ in the body. Sleep allows your body the opportunity to repair itself and should be an easier thing to get more of as the days get shorter. Even if you aren’t feeling under the weather, try and get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Staying healthy in winter for older adults means limiting your caffeine and alcohol intake and turning off any electronics including the phone, computer and television at least 1 hour prior to going to bed in order to get a proper night’s rest.
- Keep your skin moisturized: Dry, flaky and uncomfortable skin is an extremely common condition for most people in the winter. However, maintaining good skin health is important for maintaining your overall health. Apply a moisturizer as often as you can throughout the day and especially after a hot bath or shower. If you go outside, incorporate sunscreen into your skin care routine as exposure to the sun’s rays, even during winter, can have adverse effects on your skin.
- Practice self-care: Stress management is a crucial step in knowing how to stay healthy in winter. Practicing self-care, whether it is through activities like dancing, painting, yoga or meditation, is important to help quiet and re-centre the mind. Meditation in particular can help calm the mind by reducing the level of cortisol in the bloodstream. Cortisol, or the stress hormone, often contributes to the flight-or-fight response which may contribute to increasing your risk of illness. Therefore, meditation exercises such as deep breathing can help you heal since your body is in a restful state.
- Spend time with family and friends: One of the more challenging aspects of navigating the winter months is making sure you are giving your emotional health as much attention as your physical health. One of the best ways to stay healthy in winter and combat seasonal depression is to spend time with your family and friends. Due to COVID-19, we may not be able to physically gather with our loved ones this winter season but thanks to technology, there are still plenty of ways to keep in touch. Whether by phone or computer, ask your family or friends to check in at least once a day so you have someone to talk to, especially if you live alone.
What to do if you get sick – winter health tips for older adults
While following preventative measures, like the ones outlined above, are some of the best ways to stay healthy in winter, we can’t always predict if or when we might get sick. In most cases, if you do get sick with flu symptoms, you should stay home and limit your contact with others except if you are seeking medical care. For older Canadians and those in higher risk groups who are very ill or worried about possible complications, contact your health care provider right away.
Fortunately, there are a number of natural winter health tips for parents and older adults that can help you stay healthy and fit from the comfort of home and ensure that you recover from common winter ailments faster:
- Take vitamin C: If you have a cold or flu virus, increasing your vitamin C intake is one the most effective ways to recover faster and stronger.
- Drink tea: Drinking herbal teas or green tea can provide adequate support for your immune system. Try adding honey and/or lemon to your cup of tea which can help thin mucous, fight bacteria and soothe a sore throat. Another popular tea to drink if you get sick is elderberry tea. This tea is high in antioxidants which can help fight off flu symptoms and shorten the duration of your illness by a few days. If you don’t have any herbal tea in your cupboard, simply slice or grate some ginger into a cup of hot water and sip it throughout the day.
- Eat more mushrooms: Mushrooms are a true superfood. They have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to help prevent and treat a variety of illnesses. Mushrooms are prebiotic, which can significantly improve your gut health. Additionally, mushrooms are an excellent source of the all-important vitamin D and extremely high in anti-oxidant compounds. Some of the best mushrooms to include into your diet that can help improve your health include porcini, lion’s mane, shiitake, maitake, oyster mushrooms and more.
- Enjoy a bowl of soup: There is a reason chicken soup is one of the most classic remedies for cold and flu. Chicken soup contains L-cysteine, a highly important amino acid that is responsible for easing bronchial symptoms as effectively as drugs that are prescribed to treat asthma, bronchitis and other lung diseases. It also contains all important electrolytes as well as other essential nutrients.
- Gargle with salt-water: Preventing viruses and bacteria from spreading to other parts of the body can be as simple as gargling with a salt-water solution. Gargling with salt can break down secretions and ease sore throats by killing germs in the mouth. To make a salt-water solution, mix a half teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and rinse to reduce swelling and keep your mouth as clean as possible.
- Rest: Sometimes the best remedy for a cold or flu is to do nothing. For instance, a fever is your body’s natural way of clearing away viruses and bacteria. While you may feel uncomfortable for a couple of days, allowing your body to heal itself is often the best solution. Additionally, viral infections don’t normally respond to conventional treatments so it is best to get adequate rest which will encourage a natural healing and recovery process.
Stay healthy this winter and consider the benefits of the CHIP Reverse Mortgage®
Many of the winter health tips featured here are easy to implement into your daily life. Keeping track of your diet and exercise habits with our winter health tips for parents and older adults, can help ensure your health and happiness all season long. Reminding yourself why you want to stay healthy this winter, will make it a far more fun process to follow.
Financial stress can be a significant contributor to poor health. The CHIP Reverse Mortgage can help retired Canadian homeowners age 55+ ensure good health this winter by offering much needed financial support. We understand how much safety and comfort your home provides during the cold winter months and we want to make sure you can stay in the home you love by giving you the equity you need in the form of tax-free cash. With us, what you see is what you get and the money you receive requires no monthly mortgage payments. Additionally, as long as you live in the home, a reverse mortgage loan doesn’t need to be repaid until the property is sold or both homeowners pass away. Whether you want to access the cash in one lump sum or prefer to receive it over a longer period of time, we offer you the control and flexibility to choose what works for you.
Learn how the CHIP Reverse Mortgage can help you through any season of life by relieving your financial burdens. To get your application started, find out how much you could qualify for by filling out our free estimate form or give us a call at 1-866-758-2447 today.