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Gemma McCaw's 8 tips to warding off those winter ills

Make this your healthiest winter yet.

By Gemma McCaw
It's that time of year again when the days are darker, shorter and colder, and our bodies become susceptible to all sorts of winter ills.
When it feels like everyone around you is coughing and sneezing, it's vital to ensure you're doing all you can to protect yourself from the spread of colds and flu. Having a simple winter health plan can go a long way to helping you stay mentally and physically well during the colder weather, so follow these tips to get you through the chilly months in one piece!

Tissues: the cougher’s companion

The flu is highly contagious and spread by germs from coughs and sneezes, which can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. Use tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze and bin them as quickly as possible.

Vaccinate against flu

With this year's flu strain already claiming several lives in New Zealand, it's imperative you do all you can to stay safe. Vaccination is your best defence, so if you haven't already, discuss having the jab with your GP.
A national shortage means only those of us most at risk can receive it, but it's worth checking to see if that includes you.

Layer on clothes

Wear appropriate outdoor clothing to ensure you stay warm. Several lightweight layers are best, so you can strip off items if the afternoon sun raises the temperature.

Get moving outdoors

It's tempting to just stay indoors and wrap up in winter, but physical activity is really important for healthy immune function and good mental health. Wrap up warm and embrace the elements – your body and mind will thank you for it.

Wash properly for hygienic hands

Washing your hands often with warm water and soap is the number-one way to prevent the spread of germs. Experts recommend washing your hands every few hours, especially after using the toilet, before meals and after using someone else's phone or keyboard.

Keep a clean house

Mould can trigger nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, respiratory infections, and worsen asthma and allergic conditions. So move your spring clean forward and scrub away any signs of mould in your home.

Vitamins are vital

Vitamin C is essential for a strong immune system. Supplements are readily available, but you can also get your vitamin C requirements via your diet – with citrus, spinach, broccoli and kiwifruit all packing
a punch.

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