It’s February, and in addition to New Year Resolutions that might be weighing on your mind, flu season is also in full swing. Whether you’re looking to reach personal fitness goals or just hoping to avoid winter illness, now is a great time to take some steps to improving your health. Here are a few tips to make it happen:

WASH YOUR HANDS!

Seriously, this is your number one defense against most illnesses. Wash your hands whenever you get home from being out in public, before handling and eating food, and regularly throughout the day. Rubbing under soap and water is the best way, but an alcohol-based hand sanitizer works in a pinch.

Get a Flu Shot

The prime time to get the flu shot starts in September, but if you haven’t gotten it yet, it’s not too late. Flu season can actually last as late as May, so getting it late is better than not getting it at all.

Exercise

Getting more exercise tops most people’s New Year’s resolution list. But even if you’re not worried about meeting any type of weight loss goal, the benefits of movement to ANY person’s health is undeniable.  Instead of making grandiose plans, consider small steps you can take that will help. Park a little further out from the store, take the stairs, find a walking buddy to meet for coffee, spend a day in one of Bucks County’s many parks. Or have some fun ice skating or roller blading

TIP: There are plenty of places in Montgomery County for exercise. If you’re in need of some community support, check out these 2019 Montco Happening List Winners: No Bull Training (Huntingdon Valley), Anytime Fitness of Gilbertsville, CrossFit Montco (East Norriton), Aim High Studio (Norristown).

Healthy Eating

Every part of your body, including your immune system, works better when fueled by healthy foods. So while the winter might seem like the natural time to fill up on heavier comfort foods, you don’t want to skip those fruits and veggies! Luckily, cold weather is also the perfect time for soup. So be sure to choose recipes that are packed with vegetables.

TIP: 2019 Montco Happening List Winner Main Street Nutrition in Collegeville is a great resource for healthier eating. In addition to offering healthy teas with aloe and shakes, they also offer online weight loss challenges, free wellness profiles and customized nutrition plans.

Get a Checkup

The doctor is likely the first call we make when we’re sick. When we’re well? What’s the point?  For one thing, an annual exam may uncover deteriorating health trends, such as high blood pressure or sugar levels, early enough that they can be reversed.  Plus, it helps to establish a good relationship with your doctor should anything more sinister crop up.

TIP: If you don’t have a primary care doctor, look up 2019 Montco Happening List Winner Norristown Family Physicians in Norristown.

Go to the Dentist

Annual dental exams do more than just keep your teeth clean and sparkling.  Regular cleanings can reduce heart problems and risk of stroke, according to research. Plus, it will keep your breath fresh and prevent tooth loss.

TIP: If you’re in need of a good dentist, try 2019 Montco Happening List Winner The Ocean Dental Center in Willow Grove.

Drink More Water

There are all sorts of benefits to staying hydrated with water, from better skin to better functioning organs such as the kidneys or liver. It also lubricates the joints and can lead to weight loss (particularly if you trade water for soda).   Experts recommend drinking up a gallon of water a day or more. That may seem like a lot, but keeping a reusable water bottle close at hand every day will make it manageable.

Ease Stress

Chronic stress can take a toll on your emotional and physical health. It can actually weaken your immune system and lead to fatigue, depression, anxiety and heard problems. This year, make an effort to eliminate stressors in your life. Or at least find ways to cope better!

Research shows that calming the mind, even for only a few minutes a day, leads to a happier, longer life. For small things you can do on your own, try an app such as Calm to quiet the monkey mind chatter. Or take deep breaths while sitting at a traffic light.

TIP: Massage and other spa treatments can be a great way to relax. Visit 2019 Happening List Winner Massage, Wellness & Beyond to find a treatment that’s right for you. Yoga is another great stress reliever, and 2019 Happening List Winner Whole Body Yoga Studio in North Wales offers a variety of classes, including classes specifically for relaxation.

Get More Sleep

Research shows that lack of sleep increases the risk for obesity, heart disease and infections.  It also impairs brain function. For anyone who has issues falling asleep, here are a few tips:

  • Go to bed the same time each night and get up the same time each morning.
  • Sleep in a dark, quiet, comfortable environment.
  • Exercise, but not right before bedtime.
  • Limit the use of electronics before bed.
  • Relax before bedtime. A warm bath or reading might help.

NOTE: These tips feature many 2019 Happening List Winners and Finalists. To vote in the 2020 Happening List, click here

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