Make a new year resolution to look after yourself

Mon 11th January 2016


Doctors in Sunderland want everyone to have a happy and healthy 2016 and are taking steps to make that happen.

They are encouraging elderly residents in the city to stay warm and look after themselves at this colder time of year when plunging temperatures, storms and frosts may strike.

Dr Ian Pattison, a local GP and Clinical Chair at NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Being prepared for the cold weather can help make you less vulnerable to illnesses that are more common in winter.

“It is so important that you keep warm, both inside and outdoors. Very cold weather can affect your heart by increasing your heart rate and blood pressure. Your heart also has to work much harder to keep your body warm.”

He stressed the importance of elderly people, or those looking after them, ensuring that their homes are heated to at least 18°C (65°F) if possible. You might also prefer your living room to be slightly warmer.

If you’re under 65 and healthy and active, you can safely have your house cooler than 18C, if you’re comfortable.

Keep your bedroom windows closed on cold nights. You can also use a hot water bottle or electric blanket (but not both at the same time) to keep warm while you’re in bed.

Dr Pattison added: “Wear lots of thin layers – clothes made from cotton, wool or fleecy fibres are particularly good and help to maintain body heat. Wear shoes with a good grip to prevent slips and falls when walking outside.

“Around one-third of excess winter deaths are due to respiratory illness. Cold air is a major trigger of asthma symptoms such as wheezing and shortness of breath. People with asthma should be especially careful in winter. If possible, stay inside during a cold period if you have heart or respiratory problems.”

Food is a vital source of energy, which helps keep your body warm. Try to make sure that you have hot meals and drinks regularly throughout the day and keep active in the home if you can.

Dr Pattison said: “We all know that exercise is good for your overall health and it can keep you warm in winter. If you can stay active, even moderate exercise can bring health benefits. If possible, try not to sit still for more than an hour or so.

“Finally I would like to ask people if they will be good neighbours and check that older people next door or relatives are safe and well. Make sure they’re warm enough, especially at night, and have stocks of food and medicines so they don’t need to go out during very cold weather.

“If we all play our part, we can look forward to a happy and healthy new year.”

For information on staying well this winter, visit


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