Cold weather is upon us, and it’s time to make sure we are ready for the season.
You’ve already gone over your rig and made the necessary mechanical adjustments, but have you taken the same care with your body to ensure a healthy transition from fall to winter?
Inside and out, your body needs special care to remain in tip top shape over the next few months. So, give your body the healthiest base you can by continuing to maintain a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, protein and starches.
Additionally, consider the following common winter complaints and some suggestions to avoid experiencing them.
Heart attacks: At this time of year, heart attacks are more common.
In our northern climate, deaths and hospitalizations for heart disease and stroke may increase by more than 50%.
Why? Perhaps unaccustomed exertion while shoveling, but according to the Harvard Health Letter, another reason may be that heart-related hormones get thrown out of whack by winter’s short days and long nights, making the heart muscle less resilient.
To protect yourself, pay attention to your body’s signals when you’re attacking the snow.
Stop shoveling immediately if you feel any heart-related pain.
To help your heart hormones, some recommend you use full-spectrum light bulbs to trick your body into thinking the days are longer.
Flu: Some flu experts think that winter triggers the flu virus to multiply rapidly after lying dormant throughout the summer and fall seasons.
As well, since we stay inside more, we have more opportunities to share our flu bugs with our family, close friends and fellow drivers.
To protect yourself, wash your hands frequently.
Wipe down your steering wheel and any other place another driver may have touched with germy hands with a bleach wipe.
Vitamin D deficiencies: Eat fish more often and/or consider taking vitamin supplements such as fish oils.
Dry and irritated skin: To maintain healthy, strong skin, drink plenty of water.
Drinking eight 250 ml glasses of water per day will supply your body with enough moisture to keep hydrated.
Because of the wind and cold, moisture loss can not completely be prevented, so drink additional liquids for your skin to draw upon to prevent dryness. Next, take short warm showers instead of long hot ones.
Even though they feel great at the time, long hot showers strip your skin of its natural oils, making it more prone to chap and flake.
In the shower, use a mild soap to cleanse but leave your natural oils intact.
As soon as you get out of the shower, moisturize your skin. Apply it while your skin is still damp to allow the skin to absorb some of the moisture before it evaporates.
Switch to an oil-based moisturizer and moisturize frequently. The more oil a moisturizer contains the more it protects against moisture loss.
Moisturizers that come in ointment form contain the most oil because an ointment is 80% oil and 20% water.
This forms a protective layer on the skin and makes it more “moisturizing” than creams and lotions. Ointments are especially good when humidity is low.
Sun and windburn: To protect yourself use sunscreen.
Apply a heavy layer of moisturizing broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher to your face, hands, and any other exposed skin, especially if you’re going to be outside for a long time.
Sunscreen is as important in winter as the summer.
The sun’s reflective powers are great no matter what season it is.
They are 17% on the sand and 80% on the snow and ice.
Today, several products are available that combine oily, moisturizing cream with sunscreen.
Remember your lips; avoid chapped lips by using a lip balm with the same strength sun block.
Since the skin on your hands is thinner than in other areas of your body, it needs extra protection and care. So, pack mitts and gloves.
Protect your hands from the cold air and low humidity.
Be sure they are made from a material that does not bother your skin.
Some people layer their glove, putting a cotton mitten next to the skin and a woolen mitten over the cotton one to keep their hands warm and dry.
Body temperature fluctuation: Layer your clothing so you can take off or add layers to maintain a comfortable temperature.
If your clothes or shoes get wet, take them off as soon as you can.
Otherwise, your skin will become irritated.
Wearing wet clothing can also contribute to hypothermia because it wicks away body heat.
It’s inevitable, the snowflakes will fall and the roads will become slick, even so, you can keep your health on track by following the above hints. •
-Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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