With winter just around the corner, many of us are preparing for the season. Cleaning and organizing our homes, gathering food for the winter months, having our furnace and car serviced, but what about taking care of ourselves? For us Canadians living in Burlington, inclement winter can last approximately six months of the year. That’s a significant amount of time, so it’s important that we know how to stay healthy during the cold weather.

Firstly; get your flu shot if you haven’t done this already. The flu shot is readily available in pharmacies, clinics and doctor offices across Canada. It’s free, and it will help to reduce your chances of contracting the flu virus this season. It’s your first defence in staying healthy this winter.

Here are some other great tips to stay healthy during the winter:

Wash your hands frequently

Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to stay healthy anytime, but especially in the winter. While this seems like such a simple thing, it is truly one of the most effective methods of killing germs

Choose garlic to stay healthy this winter

Yes, that’s right, garlic not only is known to boost your immune system it can also help to fight some types of bacteria and viruses. You can get more into your diet by simply using this pungent herb in sauces, stir fry’s, stews, chilli’s, soups and casseroles. While using the real thing is the best option, you can also use odourless supplements which are available at some pharmacies and most health food grocers.

Increase your Vitamin C

Vitamin C has been determined by researchers to be a very powerful vitamin to boost your immune system. You can easily get vitamin C from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables such as oranges and orange juice, broccoli, peppers, kale, papaya and more. You can also get vitamin C from supplements which are available in chewable or liquid form.

Drink lots of water

During the warm months, we automatically reach for water throughout the day. However, continuing this daily ritual during the winter months is just as important. Keeping your body hydrated with regular water intake will help to keep your digestion strong and your organs functioning optimally. If you find it difficult to drink water through the day, try opting for herbal tea instead. Just keep the additional sugar and caffeine intake to a minimum.

Control your carbs and sugars for healthy winter diners

We seem to crave carbs and sugars more during the cold months. While having some carbs and sugars is okay, keep your intake moderate. Refined sugars and flours are especially bad for you. These can contribute to weight gain, and can also inhibit your immune system. Try to incorporate more vegetables into your meals and snacks as fiber is quite filling and will have you reaching less for processed snacks.

Exercising in the Winter

Our inclination to “hibernate” during the cold months makes it difficult to be motivated to move. However, to maintain good health during the cold weather, it’s important to get daily exercise. There are plenty of great activities you can try such as skating, skiing, tobogganing, evening continuing to walk, run or hike during the cold weather will help keep you healthy and boost your immune system. If spending time outdoors during the winter isn’t something you enjoy, try joining a fitness club and doing an activity you love such as yoga, Pilates, boxing or another weight bearing/cardio activity.

Keeping healthy during the winter shouldn’t be a chore. Take this time to try new recipes with healthy veggies, bake with whole grains and natural sweeteners such as fruit and spend time exploring the outdoors or take up a new physical activity.

With a little motivation and imagination, you can weather the winter and stay healthy.  For more ideas, visit Brant Arts I.D.A. in the heart of Burlington to discuss winter living with our knowledgeable staff.