Dr William Bird with some advice on how to stay well through winter
Dr William Bird, GP and founder of the Beat the Street game, talks in this Beat the Bug blog about staying well through winter. With more and more regions of England entering the higher tier levels of lockdown, and thousands of new cases being reported every day, we wanted to have a look at some of the things we can all do as individuals to protect ourselves and to kick out COVID-19!
We are passionate about physical activity here, so we say this a lot, but staying active and ensuring you get out for at least a 30 minute walk every day is one of the best things you can do. Even if where you live is subject to local lockdown restrictions, you can still get outdoors and exercise.
Read the latest government advice:
- England: Latest government advice for England
- Scotland: Latest government advice for Scotland
- Wales: Latest government advice for Wales
Play Beat the Street
Eastbourne in East Sussex, East Renfrewshire Trowbridge, Bridgwater, Sinfin and Clay Cross are all currently playing the Beat the Street game. If you live in these areas, please get involved – it’s free to play and you might discover new routes to school or work that will enable you to keep walking through the colder months! If there isn’t a game currently taking place near you, then why not have a look at a map to find a new part of your town to explore? We had some feedback about a running group in Scotland who still run a route that they’d discovered during Beat the Street, and they continue to pretend to ‘tap’ the lampposts as they pass!
Going for a walk or spending time in green spaces is good for your mental health too. You can find apps to help you enjoy some meditation time and calm, such as Insight Timer and Headspace.
If you have older relatives, try to remind them to put the heating on and to stay warm. For elderly people in particular, it’s important not to get cold as this can seriously weaken their immune system. The temperature for the living room should be about at 21 degrees C and the bedroom at 18 degrees C.
Stay in touch
With Christmas on its way, lots of families will be considering whether grandchildren can stay with their grandparents. This is such a hard decision to make. Connection and family support are essential for grandparents, so if all parties are comfortable and careful, then people should feel safe to meet if restrictions are obeyed. However, if grandparents are vulnerable or anxious, then try to stay in touch via phone or video calling app. Captain Tom Moore sent out a powerful reminder this week that older people are often lonely, particularly at the moment. Is there someone you could call and chat to?
Does your diet include all of the nutrition and vitamins needed?
Try to eat a balanced diet with your five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Cut out sugar where you can if possible as this causes inflammation on the body and puts stress on the immune system – much as I agree that reaching for a biscuit is tempting at the moment! Likewise, reducing alcohol consumption takes pressure off the immune system.
Are you getting enough Vitamin D?
With shorter days and less sunlight, our bodies need a bit of help to produce vitamin D. NICE recommends adults should take a daily supplement containing 400IU (10mcg) or you can find it in certain food like mushrooms, fish or fortified cereals..
Being isolated can cause problems for mental health and in turn, the immune system. Is there a way you can make meaningful human contact with others? Are there volunteering opportunities you could help with – for example if there a COVID-19 support network nearby or a Foodbank?
Are you and your family ready to isolate if necessary? Download the NHS COVID-19 app or the Zoe app and make a note of the number of a support group who can help if needed. Do you have neighbours who can shop for you?
Many people are having disturbed sleep at the moment. Try to go to bed a bit earlier and to avoid phone use just before you go to sleep. If you can use an old-school alarm and put your phone in another room, then even better. Try to keep the bedroom clean and clutter free.
Laughter can help strengthen the immune system and helps you to breathe more deeply. Try watching a comedy or even laughter yoga! There are lots of sessions that online at the moment – this is one of our favourites! Every Body Laugh Together
Keep wearing a mask where needed, keep washing those hands and remember to social distance. For most of us, especially children, COVID-19 is relatively mild.