7 winter health tips for newcomers

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Dreading the winter with its shorter days and long, cold nights? The end of fall is also the start of the cold and flu season which could get you more down and depressed. If this is your first winter in Manitoba, don’t worry! The trick is to prepare before the season starts.

Here are eight tips that can help you ease those winter blues:

Do some fall cleaning

Start dusting off furniture and carpets as early as September-October. Check for moulds on windows and areas of the house where moisture can build up. Spores as well as dust and dirt can trigger allergies, nasal congestion, or asthma. Having a clean environment will help prevent these respiratory problems.

While you’re at it, you can start taking out (or buying) winter jackets, boots and scarves, and re-arranging your closet. Seeing your stylish outfits may also lift your mood and make you look forward to winter.

Boost your immune system

While winter doesn’t directly cause colds and flu (since these are caused by viruses), we are more prone to getting sick because these viruses transmit faster in the cold. This is why it’s important to strengthen our immune system at this time. And this year, it is more important than ever before because of the ongoing pandemic. The best way to boost one’s immunity is to have a healthy diet. Stock up on fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, grapes and oranges, as well as greens that are available all year-round. These help our bodies because they are rich in Vitamin C, fiber and anti-oxidants. Check Canada’s Food Guide for the daily recommended amount of servings per day.

Other foods that enhance immunity include yogurt (which is rich in Vitamin D), as well as zinc-rich food like oysters, liver, lean beef, pork, turkey, lamb, lentils, pumpkin and sesame seeds and garbanzo beans. Some of these ingredients are best used for soups that can warm you up and help you stay fit. For more great food ideas, go to the spruce.com’s Manitoba fruits and vegetables: What’s in season in Manitoba? and take advantage of local nutritious foods that are in season.

Get a flushot

Increase your body’s defences further by getting immunized. Flu shots are free at your doctor’s health office, in pharmacies, or public health offices. You can check with Manitoba Health, Healthy Living and Seniors to find out the best place and time you and your family can receive immunization.

Stay active

With the cold days and long nights, it is very tempting to just stay indoors, cuddle up in your bed and sleep. Resist the temptation and continue to stay active. Regular physical activity helps elevate the mood and boosts your energy.

Remember that Manitoba is one of the sunniest provinces in Canada, so walk outside and get some Vitamin D when you can. While indoors you can follow a multitude of winter exercise routines on Youtube, from yoga to simple stretches. Here’s an example (7-minute workout from Lumowell):

Avoid stress

This period could be a stressful time for you and your family as you adjust in your new home. Make time for rest and relaxation to stay happy and motivated. There’s a lot you can do in Manitoba in wintertime that are interesting and fun. Take a walk outside, go to parks or participate in any of the wonderful activities in your community centre. Check the Leisure Guide if you’re in Winnipeg and choose from a variety of activities ranging from aerobics to skating.

Save your skin

The cold weather can make your skin dry. It can also cause chapped lips and wind burn. Remember to always moisturize your face, hands, as well as your legs and heels. Lotion and petroleum jelly can help prevent dry lips to cracked heels (consult your dermatologist if you are prone to skin allergies). Don’t forget to use sunscreen because despite the cold, it can be sunny in Manitoba.

Stay hydrated

You may not feel the need to drink often when it is cold, but you do need water. It is important to keep hydrated not only for your skin, but for your general health. It is best to drink lots of water or alternate with green tea.

Keep warm

Knowing the right winter clothing to wear helps enormously in keeping you warm when outdoors. Your best strategy would be to always check the weather before leaving the house and dress accordingly. The article Is it really colder than Mars? The truth about Manitoba weather will teach you how to stay on top of Manitoba weather like a pro.

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Community Resources

For more fall and winter health and safety tips, go to the Government of Manitoba site.

Check the Leisure Guide and sign up for the many free programs available for you and your family this fall and winter season.

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