If you think you have nothing in common with black or brown bears, consider your winter living habits as compared to theirs. Let’s keep it simple – to a certain extent, both species engage the ancient craft of hibernation.
For bears it’s a good thing, part of their cycle of life. For humans, staying closer to home during the winter can be a good thing, but there also are certain health rinks to be wary of. Let’s examine just a few ways you can keep yourself hale and hardy.
- Winterize your exercise. When the weather permits, get out there and walk, jog, or ride your bike. When it’s colder and the ground is covered by snow, consider taking up cross-country skiing or snow-shoe walking. Or purchase a treadmill or elliptical machine for you home.
- Stay warm. Before going out in the cold, bundle up in loose-fitting layers. Make the innermost layer a moisture-wicking fabric (not cotton). Add a water-resistant coat and shoes, plus a warm hat and scarf. And don’t forget your mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
- Beat the winter blues. For some people, the gray days of winter bring about extreme moodiness and even a bout of depression. To boost your spirits, stay socially engaged and physically active. Watch for signs of winter depression, such as a down or hopeless mood, low energy, overeating, oversleeping, and social withdrawal. If you think you might have contracted clinical depression, talk with your doctor.
- Don’t skip doctor visits. Some people may fear getting exposed to illness, so they decide to avoid routine screenings and doctor’s appointments. But that tendency may deliver the opposite result. Whether you show up in person or speak with your physician remotely, stay engaged. Your continued good health depends on it.
- Put the D in diet. The body can make vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight, but production often drops in winter. To compensate, get plenty of the vitamin from foods or vitamin D pills.
- Stay hydrated. We’re always reminded to stay hydrated during the summer, but it’s important to drink plenty of water in the winter, too. When you exercise in cold weather, for example, and wear multiple layers, you tend to sweat more. Later, that water needs to be replaced. Water and electrolytes are great, but alcohol, coffee, or caffeinated tea will serve only to dehydrate you even more.
- Be kind to your skin. Cold air and low humidity can lead to dry, itchy skin. To protect your skin, limit showers or baths to no more than 10 minutes and use warm (not hot) water. Afterward, blot dry gently and slather on a moisturizing cream or ointment.
- Get tough on germs. To reduce the spread of germs that cause colds and flu, wash your hands often, in warm water, for about 20 seconds. When soap and water aren’t available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the next best thing.
At MedCare Express, we have patients who practice health and safety tips like these to the letter – but even they become ill every so often. Regardless of your lifestyle and healthy living practices, MedCare Express is open 7 days a week to help cure what ails you following a careful diagnosis of your symptoms. Walk in from 8 am to 8 pm every day or call to schedule an appointment.