Help Protect the NHS: how to keep fit, healthy & well for less this winter

Staying fit and healthy is important at all times of the year, but especially in the colder spells of winter. Yet, with the NHS under increasing pressure and strike action ongoing, it’s never been more important for us to stay on top of our health to avoid putting more strain on an already stretched institution.

Here are additional key takeaways on bolstering your health this winter:

  • Layering up with thermals and targeted heat pads can relieve joint pain and arthritis stiffness without costly home heating.
  • Staying active via free phone apps or YouTube workouts maintains mobility, circulation and mental health without an expensive gym membership.
  • Finding an exercise buddy or group activities makes fitness more engaging so you’re likely to stick with routines.
  • Cutting sugar and eating anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric and olive oil eases joint issues and boosts immunity.
  • Getting enough Vitamin D from sunlight, fortified foods or supplements bolsters bones, mood and immune defenses.
  • Listening to early warning signs from your body and seeking pharmacist or physio advice promptly can prevent bigger problems.
  • The MBST Medical UK experts are always available to discuss affordable self-care options or when specialist help is needed.

Whilst slips and falls are rife during the winter months, and are sometimes unavoidable (we’re seeing more of these, and normal winter niggles coming into our clinics right now), an increased level of fitness and wellness can help to mitigate these and help to reduce the need to head to the GP’s surgery or A&E.

The good news is that staying healthy when the temperature drops below zero doesn’t have to mean forking out on costly health fixes or gym memberships, as is often the rage in the first couple of months of a new year. In fact, it can be as simple as moving more, eating well and responding to what your body needs.

The expert team of healthcare professionals at MBST Medical UK have shared their top tips to ensure you can look after and restore your body without a costly fuel or gym bill, and hopefully help the NHS by staying healthy and well.

The health benefits of dressing warmly

Keeping our bodies warm is one crucial way to look after our health, and the idea of ‘wrapping up warm’ isn’t just an old saying. For those with arthritis, it can be a vital way of looking after stiffness and pain.

There’s a science behind keeping toasty; when we’re cold, our blood is pulled to vital organs to conserve heat, which means blood vessels at our joints have less available, leading to feeling stiffer and colder. For anyone with a joint injury or ongoing issues, this can be incredibly painful and mean less dexterity, grip and even reduced motor function on cold days.

While staying warm used to be as easy as cranking up the thermostat, with inflating and rising fuel bills, it’s no longer that simple. Instead of worrying about a hefty bill after having your heating on, there are plenty of other ways to keep warm too, and stay well!

Layering up is a simple way to keep our bodies warm, and including thermal vests or leggings underneath our outfits can lock in an extra layer of heat to protect joints. Adding a hot water bottle or a reheatable pad means we can target specific areas such as hips, shoulders, backs and even knees and ankles, which can be much more cost-efficient (and effective) than heating an entire room up. 

Not only will staying warm be good for joints, movement and our bodies, but it can help us to strengthen immunity and fight off colds, viruses and bugs which are heightened in the winter months, and in doing so, should reduce that sniffle sending you to the Doctor’s waiting room.

Keep active and mobile to stay healthy

Staying active is vital for keeping well all year round, not just when it gets colder. Yet when the temperature drops, the thought of fitness or getting outside to exercise can seem like the last thing we want to do!

However, movement and mobilising our joints help increase healthy blood flow to muscles, which reduces the risk of injury. Additionally, it helps the body by preventing stiffness and swelling at tired and weary joints and offers positive mental health benefits from exercise, which can reduce stress.

Keeping active also doesn’t have to be expensive, as there are plenty of free and low-cost ways to get moving. You can use the Couch to 5k app along with plenty of free workouts on YouTube, and even getting outside for a daily walk are great ways to get your body moving without hurting your bank balance. Even putting your favourite playlist on and dancing or moving at home can keep you warm and get you moving, the first step in keeping fit and well.

Buddy up and make moving fun

Working out alone can get lonely, and sometimes this can mean we’re less likely to stick with it. Research has shown that working out and keeping active with a friend means we’re more likely to continue and feel supported due to feeling accountable to another person. Group mentality and activities are powerful in keeping motivation and momentum going, so buddy up!

Whether you take an exercise class like yoga, pilates or circuits together, or you arrange an exercise session at each other’s houses, focusing on fitness with a friend is a powerful step to sticking with it. Even some friendly competition to see who can perform best can make working out more fun and keep your joints and body moving to feel (and see) the benefits.

Cut down on sugar, embrace a rainbow diet and increase your Vitamin D

It’s no secret that diet plays a huge part in our overall health, and ensuring we’ve got our five a day as part of a balanced diet can help us feel better and healthier every day. 

Along with eating enough fruit and vegetables, it’s also important to consider anti-inflammatory foods, such as turmeric, green tea, and extra virgin olive oil, as well as reducing sugar consumption to stay on top of our joint health and overall well-being. Focusing on anti-inflammatory can offer pain relief, which for those with arthritis or stiffness in joints can be hugely beneficial.

Looking at our vitamin intake can also play a huge part in our health and even our mood.

Vitamin D, which we typically get from sunlight, can often be in short supply during darker and colder days during winter, and until we reach the long, sunny days of summer, it means we can sometimes be lacking. 

A vitamin D supplement can help boost the immune system and maintain calcium levels to keep bones strong and healthy. Equally, including oily fish, red meat, tofu, dark leafy greens, and fortified foods, including breakfast cereals, into our diets can be a great way to get more vitamin D as well as iron, omega-3 and plenty of other essential nutrients.

Filling our plates with rainbow meals, including plenty of fresh vegetables, fruit, and leafy greens, is a great way to boost our health and help us to fight off illnesses such as colds and flu.

Listen to your body

Our bodies can often tell us when there is a problem. Aches and pains should never be ignored in the hope that they might go away. Even a small niggle can be an indication that a bigger issue might be at play, and this could lead to sustaining a greater injury or being forced off work or laid up at home in pain.

When your body starts to show signs of pain, it’s important to seek medical advice. Whilst the news headlines might show how terribly strained the NHS is, this can mean turning to your pharmacist for pain relief in the interim or seeking the advice of a musculoskeletal health professional like a physiotherapist who can help to tackle the pain or put your mind at rest.

Speak to the experts

Get in contact to speak with the expert team at MBST Medical UK, who can advise or discuss how to keep fit and well or when you might need to seek further support.

Whether it’s for an ongoing ache or pain from an injury, the approachable and friendly team here at MBST Medical UK are happy to help.

Written by

MBST UK

A community of dedicated healthcare professionals who incorporate MBST therapy into our clinical practices. We are comprised of the most qualified practitioners in musculoskeletal health, including Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Physiotherapists and Surgeons, and we always do what is best for each patient.

February 3, 2023

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