Posted on Jan 12, 2021 in Senior Health
It’s interesting to think about how our perception of things like the weather changes with age. For children, the winter months mark a magical period of the year characterized by holidays, snow fun, and cozy evenings of indoor fun. For those of us above the age of 13, however, winter tends to be synonymous with sludge, darkness, and flu season.
But while it is, without a doubt, that late November through March does mean short days and cold nights, it is far from the truth that we can’t and shouldn’t enjoy winter.
In fact, not only is winter an ideal time to take things slow and enjoy a more laid-back pace. But, it’s also an excellent opportunity to do everything we may have been putting off due to busy schedules. Of course, to do that, we must ensure that we’re healthy and prepared to take on any challenge out there.
So, if you’re looking to boost your immune system so that you can enjoy winter, the following tips will ensure you’re in top health this season.
For a long time, the primary role of vitamin D was believed to be bone health. Today, however, we have much more insight. Not only is it a crucial micronutrient for bone density. It also contributes to muscle function, cardiovascular health, mood regulation, circadian rhythm management, and, most importantly, immune function. There is even evidence that adequate vitamin D levels prevent severe Covid-19 symptoms, which is another good reason to keep them in check.
The standard suggested dose of vitamin D for adults over 50 is around 600 IU per day. Still, many health experts recommend going much higher than that. To ensure that you’re getting enough, make sure that you spend sufficient time in the sun during summer, as well as that you eat a varied diet. You can take a supplement, but test your levels first and consult with your primary care physician before taking any pills.
One thing that tends to take a secondary role during winter is movement. Yes, the weather can get cold and wet, but we need to remember that our bodies need physical activity to remain healthy.
Overall, it’s important to keep on engaging in the prescribed daily amount of exercise during winter. That means approximately 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per day and 2-3 sessions of strength training per week. Another thing to work on for seniors is balance and stretching, both of which help improve range of movement and prevent common accidents.
Most adults don’t get enough sleep, which is, quite frankly, a mistake, considering how important it is for health. In addition to preventing diabetes, obesity, and heart disease, sleep also regulates cytokines. These are crucial in fighting off viral and bacterial infections.
With this in mind, most adults should aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. However, seniors often have trouble falling and staying asleep. This is why it’s not a bad idea to work on improving sleep hygiene. Furthermore, a magnesium-rich diet could also help, as this micronutrient benefits both sleep quality and quantity.
It’s no secret that what we eat impacts our health. But, what many people don’t seem to be aware of is that food can help us build a stellar immune system. Alternatively, it can also make it weak.
On the whole, physicians recommend a varied diet rich in vitamins and minerals that will give our bodies sufficient energy. What’s also important to note, however, is that macronutrients are just as impactful.
On the whole, it is advisable to limit carbohydrate and sugar intake to prescribed amounts, as well as to eat as many fresh vegetables and lean proteins as possible. Furthermore, it’s not a bad idea to look into shortening eating windows, as even a 12 to 14-hour fast may help regulate inflammation and immune response.
If you’re looking for less standard ways to improve your immune function this winter, it may not be a bad idea to look into cold exposure.
Popularized by Wim Hof, daily cold exposure has been shown to benefit metabolic function, reduce inflammation, and improve overall immunity. Of course, you don’t have to go for a polar plunge to get the benefits. A 2-minute cold shower every morning is more than enough to help your body realize its full potential. You may even find yourself more energized than ever before.
Finally, senior citizens must take advantage of all of science’s progress in ensuring they live a happy and fulfilled life. Flu shots, for example, are a highly effective way to prepare the immune system for winter, a time when viruses and bacteria thrive.
Additionally, regular doctor check-ups complete with tests can help discover any possible health issues early on. And early detection is the best way to regulate and treat them effectively.
So don’t shy away from visiting your physician every three to six months, even if you feel well.
As you can see, there’s plenty you can do to boost your immune system this winter. And the best part is, none of these methods are invasive, nor do they require you to gulp down meds or spend a fortune on supplements. Instead, focusing on small things, like daily movement, rest, and nutrition, can all contribute to your body’s strength.
Of course, don’t forget that wellbeing goes beyond physical health, so try to lead a rich social life and partake in as many enjoyable activities as you can. In the end, that’s what health and longevity are all about – allowing yourself to live your life to the fullest, regardless of your age.