winter wellness

How to support staying well in winter

Ever wondered why you get more coughs and sore throats in winter? Studies have shown several reasons why you’re more susceptible to the sniffles in cooler months. Help boost your winter wellness with our tips below.

Can cold weather give you a sore throat?

Research on seasonal differences in infection rates has highlighted several reasons why you might get more coughs and sore throats in the cooler months:

  1. More people indoors — Pathogens love crowded environments. As you move indoors with the cooler weather, poor ventilation and being in closer proximity to other people may increase your exposure to airborne pathogens leading to more colds and sore throats. Click here for tips how to ease a sore throat or provide comfort for a cold.


  1. Dry air — Running your heater and closing off your home, can dry out the air, creating a perfect environment for some pathogens. Dry air may also lead to pain and irritation in your throat. Help ease a sore throat with our Gargling 101
  1. Lower vitamin D — Covering up in winter decreases your skin’s exposure to sunlight, decreasing your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is needed for healthy immune function. To get enough vitamin D from sunlight expose your arms, legs and face to the sun for approximately 5–30 minutes , particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., either daily or at least twice a week. Please do this by practising sun-safety and using sunscreen when in the sun.
  1. Lower melatonin — Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep and also helps regulate your immune system. In winter, due to shorter days, your melatonin levels decrease. This may affect your immune system.
  1. Lack of exercise — Physical inactivity has been linked to increased infections in winter.

How to help boost your winter wellness

Knowing why you’re more susceptible to sickness in the cooler months can help you boost your winter wellness, helping keep you and your family healthy as the days get shorter and the temperature drops.

Wash your hands

When indoors during the cooler months, hand washing and hygiene practices to decrease infections become more important. Wash your hands before eating or after blowing your nose. Teach your kids to sneeze into their elbow and use a tissue to wipe their nose and then throw the tissue away.

Improve the air quality of your home

Improving air quality through using a humidifier or improving ventilation may also help reduce your risk of infection and prevent the mucosal lining of your nose and throat from drying out. Some homes have humidifiers built into their heating systems. You can open a window in your home for a few minutes during the warmest part of the day to increase fresh air.

Eat to help boost your immune system

A diet rich in fresh vegetables, quality protein and goods fats can help to support your immune system and help you feel great over winter.

Get outside

Spending time outside will increase your sun exposure and reduce your exposure to airborne pathogens. Try a quick run around the block or weeding in the garden.

Vitamin D

Help boost your vitamin D through getting outside and increasing vitamin D rich foods in your diet including fatty fish like salmon, herring and mackerel, and eggs. Additionally, consider speaking to your healthcare practitioner about vitamin D supplementation.

Help boost melatonin naturally

Help your body maintain its normal melatonin levels in the cooler months by opening your blinds first thing in the morning to let in as much natural light as possible. Try to expose yourself to natural light as much as you can during the day and decrease blue light from screens in the evening. The science of boosting melatonin levels through diet is still in its infancy, but preliminary studies have shown that eating melatonin rich foods can increase serum melatonin. These include fish, eggs, nuts, mushrooms and whole grains.


A US study looking at activity levels of over 1002 adults, assessed the impact of physical activity on upper respiratory tract infections over 12 weeks.

Volunteers were asked how often they would do exercise lasting at least 20 minutes and intensive enough to break a sweat.

They found that people who exercised on five or more days of the week, were unwell with a cold, for five days of the 12 weeks, compared to nine days for those who did little or no exercise.  Even when they were ill, they suffered less symptoms.  The severity of symptoms fell by 41% among those who felt the fittest.

Exercise helps every system in your body and during winter may decrease your risk of getting a cough or cold. Aim for at least 20 minutes a day for a potential winter boost.

Exercising in the fresh air and sunshine during the winter months may help give your immune system the boost it needs to fight off infections. Add fresh vegetables and whole foods to your winter menu to help keep you and your family feeling good over the cooler months.

MAT-AU-2203383. Dec 2022.

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