The nights are darker and the weather is colder - but that doesn’t mean you can’t be healthier!

During the cold, we’re more at risk of winter bugs - and of course we still need to be watching out for respiratory viruses including coronavirus. Here’s what you can do to help. 

Top up on vitamin C and vitamin D

Vitamin C is a great antioxidant that can strengthen your immune system - perfect for protecting you against those winter bugs. Oranges, peppers, potatoes, broccoli, strawberries and peppers are all good sources of vitamin C. 

With less sunlight, it’s also advisable to top up on your vitamin D - which helps to keep our bones strong. Good sources of vitamin D include oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolks and some breakfast cereals. 

Keep your exercise routine 

The absence of long hours in the sun can be demotivating but it’s important to maintain your fitness routine - or create one - to keep your body and health in good shape. 

Exercise also helps our wellbeing by producing serotonin - which is particularly important if you suffer from seasonal depression. 

There are plenty of workouts you can do in the comfort of your own home - so weather or light don’t have to be an obstacle. 

Stay warm

If you’re heading out, bring plenty of layers. When you’re at home make sure your heating is at least 18 degrees throughout the day - and close any curtains and blinds to lock in the heat too. 

We’d also advise eating at least one hot meal per day and drinking hot drinks. 

If you have any financial concerns about heating your home, we’ve got some advice here. Alternatively, take a look at the Winter Fuel Payment, the Cold Weather Payment and heating and housing benefits on GOV.UK.

Get your winter vaccinations 

As we have been less exposed to viruses and illnesses whilst in coronavirus lockdowns, respiratory viruses are expected to be more widespread. This makes it even more important to get your vaccinations. 

The UK Government advises the following: 

Those aged 50 and over are eligible for a COVID-19 booster jab this year. It's not too late to have your first jabs, either, if you haven't yet.

You're also entitled to a free flu jab from the doctor or pharmacist if you:

  • Are aged 50 or over
  • Are a carer
  • Have a serious long-term health condition
  • Live in the same house as someone who is immunocompromised

When you get your flu jab, check if you're also eligible for the pneumo vaccine, which helps protect you from pneumonia, and the Shingles vaccine.

To further protect yourself against illness:

  • Let fresh air circulate
  • Wear a face covering in busy spaces
  • Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Get advice if you feel unwell

Don’t suffer in silence if you feel unwell, seek the support and advice you need.

For minor illnesses:

  • Head to your pharmacy to ask for treatment advice
  • Give your GP a call to see if your problem requires further investigation/an appointment

If you can’t wait for a GP appointment and need medical advice urgently, call 111. For medical emergencies (medical help to save a life) you need to call 999.

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