5 Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter

By , Family Circle Health Editors
Your winter woes answered, with tips on how to treat--and weather--cold symptoms, body changes, injuries and more.

Q. I've had a cold for what seems like weeks. Should I see a doctor?

A. Yes. The typical cold lasts just seven to nine days, with people usually feeling the worst on days two to four, says Priya Wagle, M.D., an ear, nose and throat specialist in private practice in Linwood, New Jersey. "If you experience symptoms for a longer period of time, check with your doctor to be sure you don't have something more serious, like a sinus infection. A cold is a virus, so antibiotics won't help, but sinusitis can be bacterial and is treated with a prescription." 
Q. I fall into a funk every winter -- tired, unmotivated and moody. Why?

A. Gray skies and the constant need to scrape frost from your windshield are enough to bring anyone down. But if you struggle to find joy in the things that normally make you happy, you may be suffering from season affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that usually occurs during the colder months. Some doctors believe that reduced sunlight may cause a drop in serotonin, the brain chemical that makes you feel happy. Try making a few lifestyle changes: Let more light into your home, get outside for at least a few minutes each morning and exercise daily. If you're still feeling down, visit your doctor to discuss other treatment options.

Q. Last year I hurt my back shoveling. How do I prevent it from happening again?

A. Wear layers, says Jack Stern, M.D., a spine specialist in White Plains, New York. "That'll increase blood flow, making you less likely to pull a muscle." Then grab a lightweight shovel made of plastic or aluminum. While you work, keep your knees bent, take a water break every 15 minutes and vary your technique (throw a pile to your left, then to the right). Before you start—and after you're done—do five of each of these stretches inside.

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Thanks Report
Smart! Report
Great ideas! Report
Good to know. Report
Well like the article but I don't have to do kbow shoveling snow. Thank God. Report
I agree with everything but the seasonal affective disorder. The scientist who discovered it, went back and looked at her research and found it was directly linked to sleep deprivation. More specifically, not getting enough deep sleep, and staying asleep. If you are feeling down for extended periods of time anyway, definitely seek medical attention and look at your options. Report
Since I can't seem to read the rest of the article at Family Circle I agree with PEANUT-M-MS. Also, I've found that buying an ergonomic shovel helped a great deal. It has a bend in the handle so you can scoop up the snow without having to lean over so much. Maybe a bit more expensive but definitely worth it. Report
I find something wrong with saying there would be 5 ways to keep healthy and then only giving 3 of them. I realize it is an advertising gimmick for the magazine, but it's not right to lead folks to believe they will be reading about 5 ways, not 3. Report
I always hear "lift with your legs, not your back" in regards to snow shovelling, and I'm pretty sure 99% of the general population have no idea what that means. It means that you squat/deadlift (butt back, NO rounding of the lower back). So get cracking with squats and deadlifts at the gym! Report