As winter rapidly approaches, GP surgeries and A&E departments are becoming increasingly busier as the cold weather causes the health of the community to decline.

To help combat the upturn in illness, a Worcester GP has offered his expert advice on how to stay healthy as the winter chill creeps in.

Dr Jason Seewoodhary, said: "As autumn has kicked in and the weather gets colder, I would like to offer our community five top-tips to stay healthy this winter."

His top-tips can be seen below:

1. Ensure you are double-vaccinated against Covid-19 and, if invited for a booster vaccine, then it’s essential you accept - only patients deemed high-risk for Covid-19 infection are invited for a booster, which can be lifesaving to you and those around you.

2. Get your flu vaccine. This will be the first winter where Covid and flu circulate fully at the same time. Research shows those infected with both viruses are more than twice as likely to die as someone with Covid alone.

Social distancing and lockdown measures, used last year to control Covid, resulted in very low levels of flu in 2020, however, this unfortunately means that our immunity against the flu virus will be much lower this year resulting in our community now being a lot more vulnerable to flu.

A report from the Academy of Medical Sciences predicts that flu may be associated with up to 60,000 deaths in the UK this year. 

3. As the weather turns and it starts to get dark earlier, our motivation to exercise can understandably wane, however, it’s important you don’t let this happen.

Exercise is extremely important in maintaining physical and mental health. Aim to walk for 30 minutes each day. If that isn’t possible then consider either going to a gym or purchasing an affordable exercise bike for home use.

For patients with arthritis who struggle with walking then consider going swimming at a local pool - the water will support your joints and swimming is the only exercise that involves you using every muscle in your body.

4. Eat healthily and aim to consume at least five portions of fruits and vegetables daily. Even though supermarket shelves for fresh produce may be empty due to a shortage of delivery drivers and the knock-on effects of Brexit, you may wish to consider purchasing a multivitamin tablet during winter to compensate for this.

It’s also important you keep a watchful eye on your alcohol intake, which should be kept to a minimum of 14 units per week with 2-3 consecutive alcohol-free days each week.

5. The festive period can be a sad and lonely time for many, which is often compounded by loneliness that can escalate into anxiety and depression. I would urge our community to visit neighbours, friends, and relatives.

Try to attend and engage with community events such as firework and bonfire displays and the upcoming Worcester Christmas markets. All GP Surgeries now have 'social prescribers' on-site, who are trained professional members of staff.

They would be happy to meet with you and support you in branching out to glean the enormous health benefits of socialising.