Five ways to stay well this winter

AGE FOTOSTOCK

Winter is just around the corner for those in the Northern Hemisphere.

And while the season brings cosy days spent indoors and festive fun, for many people, the cold weather also means sore or aching joints.

"There is actually a strong link between low atmospheric pressure which indicates why cold weather has a direct impact on our joints. This is often why you'll find people first complaining about these aches and pains just before the cold weather hits," explained Ann Clare, a physiotherapist at MBST Medical UK. "It's easy to fall ill and feel poorly during the colder months, and keeping the heating on and staying warm would usually be the go-to option. However, with the rising cost of living and sky-high energy bills, it can mean we're now left with cold homes and even colder toes!"

Read on for Ann's top tips for combatting cold weather woes.

Keep your muscles and joints warm

This isn't just an old wives' tale! In cold temperatures our blood is pulled to our organs to conserve heat, leaving the blood vessels at our joints constricted, stiffer and colder.

"This is because our body prioritises keeping our core warm, but this can mean our hands and toes as well as other joints get stiff," she noted. "Wearing lots of layers and making use of a hot water bottle can help to prevent cold weather from affecting your joints, plus it is more targeted than turning on the heating. Staying warm will help your body to fight off colds, viruses, and bugs that are all more likely to strike in the winter months."

Stay fit and active

Ensuring that you are mobilising your joints means that you are increasing the healthy blood flow that passes through the muscles.

"Keeping your blood pumping through your body helps to prevent stiffness and swelling from congregating around those weary joints and can keep your body healthy and supple," the expert explained.

Choose indoor workouts

Whilst working out outdoors might be a normal part of your routine, when the temperature drops it can be better to consider an at-home workout.

"Swap outdoor bootcamps for an at-home workout class or swap that running training for a sweaty session on the treadmill. Not only can it mean your bones and body aren't in freezing temperatures, but it can mean you focus on hitting those personal bests without worrying about the cold," she shared.

Stay on top of your vitamin D

In the winter, there is a lack of sunlight which can cause low levels of vitamin D.

"Government advice is that everyone should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter. Other good sources of vitamin D include oily fish, red meat, tofu, dark leafy greens and fortified foods including breakfast cereals," said Ann.

Tackle pain and aches before they grow

One of the best ways to reduce muscle and joint aches and pains is to try and identify the activities in your daily life that may be aggravating the symptoms of joint pain and arthritis.

"If you're worried or concerned that a pain could be the start of something bigger, seek the advice of a medical professional, such as a musculoskeletal health professional, like a physiotherapist, who can help to tackle the pain or put your mind at rest," she added.