Prevention & Recovery

7 ways to prepare your body for winter

By: Jill Buchner

Thinkstock Author: Canadian Living Credits: Thinkstock

Prevention & Recovery

7 ways to prepare your body for winter

By: Jill Buchner
Winter's cold, dry air makes us vulnerable to viruses, dry skin and other nasty ailments. Here are some of the best defences you can use to prepare yourself for the weather and stay healthy all season long.

Krill Oil
1. Take krill oil
Did you know that moisturizing on the inside is just as important as moisturizing on the outside? Krill oil is a great source of omega-3s, which help to moisturize the skin and soothe inflammation. Plus, antioxidants like astaxanthin, which are found in krill oil, give your skin an extra layer of protection against the elements and free radical damage. Jackie Khayat, a registered dietitian at Neptune, explains that it's the krill oil's phospholipids, which dissolve in both fat and water, that maximize the omega-3 absorption potential for your body.

Neptune Oceano3 Krill Oil, $40,

Hand + Foot Relief
2. Moisturize with purpose
A rich moisturizer is a must for winter. Yes, you should up your game on your face (check out Graydon's The Putty for that), but your hands also need some extra love. You should be washing them often to ward off cold and flu germs, but the combo of icy winds, dry air and overwashing can make skin parched to the point of cracking. This all-natural Hand + Foot relief soothes and moisturizes with a rich but not oily formula that is spiked with a "Germs Away" blend of antimicrobial essential oils, so it helps keep you healthy as it provides moisture.

Graydon Clinical Luxury by Nature Hand + Foot Relief, 50 mL, $18, .


3. Warm-up to work out
You should be doing warm-ups all year long, but it can be especially important in the winter. That's because cold muscles are more likely to be strained or injured. Warm them up indoors with some dynamic movements (most trainers agree that static stretching isn't helpful; you need to get the blood moving). Afterwards, when you head outdoors for some fresh air and exercise, your muscles will be pliable and ready for anything.

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4. Pop some zinc
Vitamin C and Echinacea may have been getting all the hype, but it turns out that zinc is the supplement that actually delivers results when it comes to preventing colds. A 2014 analysis in the Canadian Medical Association Journal said that almost none of our accepted cold remedies actually prevent colds—except for hand washing and zinc. Taking 10 to 15 milligrams of zinc can help protect you from cold viruses, and the mineral could help when you're already sick, too. Sean Simpson of the Ontario Pharmacists Association says he relies on zinc lozenges to reduce the amount of time he suffers from colds.

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5. Spice up your dinner
We call spicy food "hot," but it turns out that certain spices can actually warm you up from the inside out. When the temperature starts to drop, add ginger, cayenne or cinnamon to your food. These spices help increase circulation and warm you up, which is a great added benefit for foods that are already known for their antioxidant power. Plus, some spices can help with winter viruses. For example, ginger is known for soothing your stomach and easing breathing when flu season hits. 


6. Boost your humidity
Dry winter air leads to dry winter skin. Setting up a humidifier in your bedroom will help prevent precious moisture from evaporating from your skin, and that extra bit of humidity could also help protect you against colds. Some studies suggest that we're more vulnerable to airborne viruses when the humidity is low, and adding a little extra moisture can help relieve things like sinus congestion, coughing and a dry or irritated throat. Aim for a humidity level of between 40 and 50 percent. Overdoing it can lead to mould and respiratory problems.

Bionaire Cube Warm/Cool Mist Humidifier, $120, .

Vitamin D


7. Get vitamin D
Typically, you can head outdoors to get some free vitamin D from the sunlight, but in the Canadian winter it can be hard to get enough, even if you do push yourself to head outdoors and brave the cold regularly. Taking a daily vitamin D supplement can have all kinds of benefits. In addition to boosting bone health and reducing your risk of all kinds of chronic diseases, the vitamin has been linked to improving your mood and immunity—two things that face great risks during the darkest, sickest months of the year.

Learn more survival tips for staying healthy during cold and flu season.
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Prevention & Recovery

7 ways to prepare your body for winter