Living and Wellness Be Happy and Healthy This Winter By UPMC HealthPlan, January 16, 2014 Is your favorite winter activity staying indoors under a warm blanket in front of the television with a bag of snacks in hand? You’re not alone. Getting through the cold weather with your health and spirits intact is difficult but not impossible. Follow these suggestions for a happier, healthier winter. Fight the Flu Cold and flu season is fast approaching. Here are some ways to avoid the sniffles. Wash your hands for 15 seconds using soap and warm water is your best defense against germs. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based antibacterial product. Get a flu shot to reduce your risk of infection by 90 percent. If you don’t like needles, a nasal spray vaccine may be available. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, getting plenty of sleep, and reducing stress will help boost your immune system. Winterize Your Skin As the weather turns colder, the dry air causes itchy, dry skin. To keep skin more comfortable during the winter months: Switch to oil-based moisturizers with a minimum SPF of 30 for your face and body, and use them frequently. Protect your hands from the elements with a heavy-duty hand cream, and always wear gloves outdoors. Lips need extra protection, too. A moisturizing lip balm with vitamin E will help prevent chapping. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home. Banish the Winter Blahs With Exercise Don’t pack your exercise gear away with your summer clothes. Staying active during the winter months can lift your mood, help your immune system, and keep you from gaining weight. Be sure to talk with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Walk indoors at a local mall. Need extra motivation? Join a walking group. Check out an exercise video at your local library or borrow one from a friend. With proper planning, walking outdoors in winter can be fun and exhilarating. Walk during daylight hours, dress appropriately, and wear skid-resistant shoes.