Winter Health 2016/17
Below are some tips to help you during winter to keep you healthy and warm, for older and vulnerable people in the community
As tempting as that thick woolly jumper may be, layers are the key to keeping warm. Several thinner layers will trap warm air close to the body, and clothes made from wool, cotton, polyester or fleecy synthetic fibres work best. Thermal underwear works wonders, but if money's tight, thick tights or long socks will still make a big difference.
If you feel the chill whilst indoors, don't be stoic - wrap up further with a hat or scarf, and be sure to wear a warm pair of slippers with grip to help protect you against falls.
In very cold weather, thermal underwear, bed socks and a hat will keep you warm in bed, while a cosy blanket or shawl will provide extra warmth if you are sitting for any length of time.
Long periods of inactivity will leave you feeling the cold, so if possible try to move around every now and again. Simple activities such as vacuuming or walking to the shops will raise your body temperature, although avoid going outdoors if it is very cold. For those who have difficult walking, try to move your arms and legs, fingers and toes to help keep the chill away, and keep your feet up where possible as the air will be considerably cooler at ground level.
Burning the calories you've eaten keeps your body warm, so eating properly is essential in the colder months. Regular hot meals containing plenty of carbs like potatoes, pasta or rice are a good choice, as are soups and stews. Porridge for breakfast is a cheap way to keep your energy levels up, and protein from fish and meat will provide energy.
Fruit and vegetables are a must as they will give you essential vitamins and nutrients to make sure you stay healthy. And remember - tinned fruit or frozen veg is just as good as fresh, so try to stock up the cupboards so that you don't have to struggle to shops if it's cold outside. Regular hot drinks will help to stave off the chill between meals.
If you struggle to cook at home, contact your local council and check whether Meals on Wheels can provide daily hot meals in your area or another suitable food provider there are also many community kitchens now in the area to get a low cost meal daily.
Agencies advise that the ideal temperature is 21 degrees Celsius so try to keep those most-used rooms at that warmth. If the temperature falls below 16 degrees Celsius, older people and people with long term health conditions are at greater risk of hypothermia, heart attach or stroke.
The most important areas to keep warm are the living room and the bedroom, so even if you heat just the two rooms, do so. Alternatively, keep your living room warm and set the heating to come on before you go to bed and get up so that you don't feel the chill overnight and when you wake in the morning.
If paying the bills is a real problem, a last resort may be to use just one room, but if that seems the only option, ask friends or relatives to move your bed into the living room to ensure you still get a good night's sleep.
Remember to draw the curtains as the night draws in, as it will keep the heat in and the draughts out, and if possible, put a curtain across doors for the same reason.
Winter fuel payments for older people will soon be paid and there is still Cold weather payments for people on certain benefits if your entitled to these you normally dont have to apply the payments will be made automatically into your bank or account you use.
Please dont suffer if your having problems paying fuel bills contact your supplier or local advice agency like CAB.
Here are five ways to make sure that, even when your body is telling you to hibernate, you can keep healthy and fit, no matter what the weather's like.
1. Eliminate your sleep debt
"On average we sleep six-and-a-half hours a night, much less than the seven to nine hours recommended," says Jessica Alexander, spokesperson at The Sleep Council, which aims to raise awareness of the importance of a good night's sleep for health and wellbeing.
But in winter, we naturally sleep more because of the longer nights. "It's perfectly natural to adopt hibernating habits when the weather turns cold," says Jessica. "Use the time to catch up."
2. Drink more milk
You are 80% more likely to get a cold in winter, so making sure your immune system is in tip-top condition is important. Milk and dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt and fromage frais are great sources of protein and vitamins A and B12.
They're also an important source of calcium, which helps keep our bones strong. Try to go for semi-skimmed or skimmed milk – rather than full-fat – and low-fat yoghurts.
3. Eat more fruit and veg
When it's cold and dark outside, it can be tempting to fill up on unhealthy comfort food, but it's important to ensure you still have a healthy diet and include five portions of fruit and veg a day.
If you find yourself craving a sugary treat, try a juicy clementine or satsuma instead, or sweet dried fruits such as dates or raisins.
Winter vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, swede and turnips can be roasted, mashed or made into soup for a comforting winter meal for the whole family. Explore varieties of fruit and veg that you may not normally eat.
4. Try new activities for the whole family
Don't use the cold winter months as an excuse to stay in and lounge around. Instead, get out with the whole family to try out a new activity – maybe ice skating, or taking a bracing winter walk on the beach or through the park.
Regular exercise helps control your weight, boost your immune system, and is a good way to break the tension that can build if the family is constantly cooped up inside the house.
5. Have a hearty breakfast
Winter is the perfect season for porridge. Eating a warm bowlful on a cold morning isn't just a delicious way to start your day, it also helps boost your intake of starchy foods and fibre.
These give you energy and help you feel fuller for longer, stopping the temptation to snack mid-morning. Oats also contain lots of vital vitamins and minerals.
Make your porridge with semi-skimmed or skimmed milk or water, and don't add sugar or salt. Add a few dried apricots, some raisins, a sliced banana or other fruit for extra flavour and to help you hit your 5 A DAY target.
Informaton supplied by nhs choices and other health websites