5 tips for staying healthy this winter

Date: Thu 15th November 2018

Staying Healthy in the cold can be especially hard when living with Scleroderma and Raynaud's. Here are some top tips for keeping warm with your conditions this winter.

1. Those who suffer from long term conditions like Scleroderma and Raynaud's should seriously consider getting a free flu jab. Free flu vaccinations are available in England for those who: are aged 65 or older, are aged two or three years old, are children in primary school.

Eligibility will depend on which country you live in, are pregnant, are aged six months to 64 years old and - have a long term health condition such as chronic heart, lung, neurological, liver or kidney disease or diabetes, have a weakened immune system due to disease or treatments that suppress the immune system such as chemotherapy, have had a stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA), are seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above), are living in a long-stay residential care home or other long-stay care facility (not prison or university halls), are the main carer for an elderly or disabled person whose welfare may be at risk if you fall ill.

If you live in England you can visit NHS Choices for more information about flu. If you live in Scotland you can visit the Immunisation Scotland website for more information. There are different arrangements in place for the child flu programme in Scotland, please check the website for more information. If you live in Northern Ireland you can visit the Flu Aware NI website for more information. If you live in Wales you can visit NHS Direct Wales for more information. There are different arrangements in place for the child flu programme in Wales. Please visit NHS Direct Wales for further details.

2. You should take extra care to avoid catching coughs and colds. A good way of ensuring this is always cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and encourage visitors and relatives to do the same, throw away used tissues as soon as possible, wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and use a hand sanitiser gel when you're out and about, stock up on over-the-counter cough and cold remedies.

3. Eating well is a great way to stay healthy over winter. Eating regular meals will help keep your energy levels up during winter, hot meals and drinks help keep you warm, so eat at least one hot meal a day and have plenty of hot drinks, plan your meals and keep your diet as varied as possible. Aim to include your daily five portions of fruit and veg. Remember that tinned and frozen fruit and vegetables count towards your five a day, stock up on tinned and frozen foods, so that you don't have to go out too much when it's cold or icy.

Parents of children under four and women who are at least 10 weeks pregnant and are on certain benefits may be eligible for free weekly Healthy Start vouchers. The vouchers can be swapped for milk, fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, infant formula milk and vitamins. To find out if you qualify and for more tips and advice on healthy eating visit www.healthystart.nhs.uk or call the Healthy Start Issuing Unit on 0345 607 6823. You also qualify if you are under 18 and pregnant, even if you don't receive benefits or tax credits.

4. Stay active. We all know that exercise is good for your overall health – and it can keep you warm in winter. If you can stay active, even moderate exercise can bring health benefits. If possible, try to move around at least once an hour. Wear shoes with a good grip if you need to go outside. Remember to speak to your GP before starting any exercise plan. Keeping active generates heat and helps keep you warm. When you're indoors, try not to sit still for more than an hour. Get up and walk around, make yourself a warm drink and spread any chores throughout the day. Chair-based exercises and simply moving your arms and legs and wiggling your toes are helpful if walking is difficult.

5. It may sound obvious, but dress for the weather. Wear lots of thin layers – clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres are particularly good and help to maintain body heat. Wear shoes with a good grip to prevent slips and falls when walking outside. Always take a mobile phone with you when outside. A hat is especially effective for keeping warm outdoors.

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