Prevention & Recovery

7 ways to stay healthy this winter

By: Doug O'Neill

Photo courtesy of Masterfile Author: Canadian Living Credits: Photo courtesy of Masterfile

Prevention & Recovery

7 ways to stay healthy this winter

By: Doug O'Neill
1. Stay active despite the cold
“It’s easier to exercise in warmer weather,” says Dr. Grundland. “But a sedentary lifestyle during the winter can result in weight gain, decreased mood and the worsening of chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure.”

2. Get your vitamin D
Canadians get little to no natural vitamin D in winter, when there’s extremely limited sunlight. “And chances are that most people use sun protection during the summer and, therefore, aren’t getting any natural vitamin D,” says Dr. Grundland. “I recommend adults get a minimum of 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily year-round.”

3. Get immunized
“Absolutely get the flu vaccine,” says Dr. Grundland. “This is especially important for vulnerable people, those over 65 and under the age of six, and women who are pregnant. Getting the vaccinenot only keeps you healthy but it also helps protect those who are vulnerable by stopping the spread.”

4. Wash your hands frequently
Hand hygiene is paramount during cold and flu season. Make sure to lather up for at least 40 to 60 seconds.

5. Eat nutritiously
“People often tend to let their nutritional habits slide in the colder months,” says Dr. Grundland. “Eating things like salads is easier in the summer. Make a point of hitting the fruit and vegetable section when you’re shopping, and limit packaged and processed foods whenever possible.”

6. Bump, don't shake

A recent study in the American Journal of Infection Control recommends fist-bumping as a preferred method of greeting over handshaking or high-fiving—and it’s not about the hip factor. The study, produced by the Institute of Biological, Environmental, and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University in Wales, found that this alternative form of greeting transmitted fewer germs. Nearly twice as many bacteria were transferred during a handshake compared to the high five, and significantly fewer bacteria were transferred during a fist bump than a high-five.

7. Keep track of your vaccines
Keeping track of the different vaccine requirements for yourself and each member of your family can be a challenge. Immunize Canada, the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the Canadian Public Health Association have developed ImmunizeCA, a free app for mobile devices. The app keeps track of who has had what vaccine, sends reminders to make vaccination appointments and notifies you if there’s a disease outbreak in your area.

“The app customizes information based on your provincial vaccination guidelines,” says Dr. Shelly McNeil, professor of medicine and infectious diseases consultant at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax. “If you’re in New Brunswick, you’re getting alerts based on the approved vaccination plan for New Brunswick, not another province. I’ve got my entire family’s vaccination history stored on mine. It can make life so much easier.” And being an adult doesn’t mean your immunizations are over—even grown-ups can require boosters, so chat with your doctor. Download the ImmunizeCA app via iTunes, GooglePlay or BlackBerryWorld, or visit

Keep your immune system in tiptop shape by reading up on how to boost your immune system.
This content is vetted by medical experts
This story was originally titled "Stay On Top Of Your Health" in the December 2014 issue.
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Prevention & Recovery

7 ways to stay healthy this winter