Top 10 things to keep in mind when tackling winter-triggered sedentary diseases

By Dr Sandeep Patil, Chief Intensivist, Fortis Hospital, Kalyan 

Did you know that the winters can give rise to sedentary lifestyle diseases?  Everybody knows that winter is also the Flu season, but Influenza isn’t the only thing that you have to worry about. In fact, winter weather has more of an impact on your health than you might realize. Cold temperatures that keep people indoors can lead to a lack of exercise and can make people more susceptible to illness. Being indoors more leads to sedentary habits and this may lead to fluctuation in cholesterol levels causing ailments like Diabetes, Heart Disease and more. Moreover, winter can also lead to overeating. The richness and abundance of food around the holidays combined with this natural tendency to eat just a ‘little more’ cause many people to gain weight. Now, you might wonder if a slight weight gain is fine but if this weight gain is not controlled, it may lead to chronic ailments.

Here are a few things you can do to stay fit despite the cold climate.


Physical activity is an important aspect to keep one fit throughout the winter. Daily routine of Yoga or any form of physical activity will help keep you warm and boost the immune system, improving defense against seasonal ailments like Flu and Cold. But if you have certain conditions, such as Asthma, heart problems or Raynaud’s Disease, check with your doctor first to review any special precautions you need based on your condition or your medications.


Eating a well-balanced diet including whole grains, lean meats, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts & seeds, herbs & spices as well as plenty of fresh fruits & vegetables are essential to boost the immune system. We can also have an optimum intake of foods rich in Vitamin C, as it helps to strengthen our immune system and to keep your body fit. Moreover, abstain from consuming high-calorie winter delights.


When you feel stressed out, take a break and do something that gets your mind off stress. This gives your stress response system a chance to rest.


During winters, people prefer to stay cozy and indoors where they are in contact with several other people; thus, facilitating the speedy and easy transmission of diseases. Moreover, the foggy climate and less sunlight help in bacterial growth. Thus, health checkups in winter are very important as a preventive step.


It is essential to keep a note of one’s blood pressure, heart rate and blood sugar level as well as consult a doctor in case major fluctuations are recorded.


Smoking and alcohol consumption in excess should be avoided. Alcohol has a toxic effect on the heart muscles. It can lead to Atrial Fibrillation — an abnormal heart rhythm. Smoking can aggravate heart problems, respiratory ailments and cause high blood pressure.


Getting sleep is crucial because it helps regenerate the body while stabilizing energy and appetite levels the next day. As per data released by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, (NHLBI), it’s recommended that an individual should get at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep daily as it can optimize both mental & physical energy levels. Another point that should be mentioned is that if an individual suffers from Sleep Apnea, a serious sleep disorder, he/she should make it a point to get it checked immediately as it is linked to heart disease and arrhythmias.


People should avoid heading out the door half-dressed at all costs. It’s vital that people cover up themselves by wearing layers of clothing, especially a coat, hats, gloves and heavy socks to avoid Hypothermia (low body temperature). Since a lot of heat gets lost from the head, it’s also recommended to wear a scarf and/or a hat before stepping outside.


One should try and avoid staying outside for prolonged periods as much as possible. Staying indoors will help in regulating body temperatures and in keeping warm.


It has been long known that respiratory infections can increase the chances of getting a Heart Attack. One should avoid such scenarios by washing hands regularly with soap and water. Additionally, if any flu symptoms are noticeable such as a fever, a viral cough, or body aches, immediate steps should be taken to consult a doctor for a flu shot or antiviral medication

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