Stay healthy during the holidays

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Less sleep, more drinks and fatty foods along with the added stress of the holiday season can make it difficult to stay fit and well as winter approaches. So how can you stay healthy in the run-up to Christmas and beyond?

Yes, it’s cold outside – so get moving!

One of the first things to go out the window as the weather gets colder is often our exercise routine. But it’s more important than ever with increased food intake and less time spent outdoors to make sure you keep active.

Look for opportunities to get exercise wherever you can. We don’t always have time to keep up with our regular workouts, but there are lots of ways to add physical activity to your day. You could take the stairs at the office or the tube station rather than the lift or escalator, go for an evening walk after a big meal and take in the Christmas lights, or log the number of steps you take with a pedometer or mobile app.

You’ll be amazed how many extra steps you take throughout the day as you find more ways to get moving, and there is an added bonus; keeping active helps to  stave off seasonal depression.

Drinking – how much is too much?

Work-related Christmas parties, family gatherings and a flood of other social events fill our calendars as the holiday season begins. For many of us this means drinking more than usual. We’re told that drinking in moderation can be a part of healthy lifestyle. But what does ‘moderate’ actually mean?

The Department of Health recommends men drink no more than three or four units of alcohol a day, women no more than two or three. Mr Wayel Jassem, who specialises in liver transplants and hepato-biliary surgery at Bupa Cromwell Hospital, explains; “You can still enjoy a nice time out with family and friends, just make sure you’re not drinking too much too often. Remember that one large glass of wine or pint of lager equals 2 units, so try to drink water or soft drinks in between alcoholic beverages.”

Stay safe on the slopes

Improvements to ski boots, snowboard and safety equipment make it safer than ever to hit the slopes, but fractures to wrists, feet and ankles still happen, so what can you do to avoid them?

“It’s important that ski boots fit correctly and tightly to avoid injury. Loose ski boots will not offer the protection you need and potentially create a safety hazard,” according to Mr Martin Klinke, orthopaedic surgeon at Bupa Cromwell Hospital.

Mr Klinke also advises if you have underlying weakness or pain in any part of your feet, to consider specially-moulded boots to accommodate the need for greater width or sensitive parts of the foot. “Essentially, if your boots are not comfortable when you tighten them, they are not the right boots for you; find alternatives which are a better, safer fit.”

Wrist injuries are common for snowboarders, but the risk can be reduced. Mr Sam Gidwani, a hand and wrist surgeon at Bupa Cromwell Hospital comments; “As snowboarders are strapped to the board they have a tendency to break their fall by putting out their hands, so it is important to learn how to fall safely; either by rolling backwards onto the buttocks and back, or forwards onto the knees and forearms, with elbows bent. Wrist guards also reduce the chance of serious injury, and longer guards that extend some way up the forearm should ideally be used”.

For more information on how to keep fit and well over the winter months, go to bupacromwellhospital.com/winterfitness

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