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The winter can be a wonderful time full of fun family gatherings, warm drinks and hearty meals, but there’s no doubt that the cold weather can play havoc with your lung health. That’s why in this blog, we’re offering some tips to protect your lungs during the harsh winter months.

How can I keep my lungs healthy in winter?

It would be tempting to answer this by simply saying “stay warm,” but we know things are rarely (if ever) that easy! Additionally, even the systems you rely on to keep you warm and your air quality high can sometimes need checks and maintenance. That’s why, when it comes to keeping your lungs healthy in the cold, what you can do is follow these five helpful tips.

1. Get checks done around your home

It might surprise you just how many aspects of your home can help to benefit your lung health when they’re working correctly – or can actually risk damaging it if they’re not.

We’d therefore suggest making sure you perform a number of checks around your home as we enter the coldest months. Those checks include:

  • Having your heating system serviced and repaired if required
  • Getting your chimney checked before you start using your fire for the first time
  • Inspecting the filter on your cooker’s range hood and swapping it for a fresh one if needed
  • Buying carbon monoxide detectors or changing the batteries on your existing ones
  • Ensuring any portable heaters are working correctly and up to Lot20 regulations.

2. Stay active!

An older man stretches at home in front of his laptop

Another way to keep your lungs healthy during winter is to stay as active as possible away from the cold weather. In fact, you may not realise it, but avoiding activities that make you feel breathless can actually lead to muscle weakness, which means your muscles need more oxygen to work – meaning your heart and lungs have to work harder to provide it. It’s called the Cycle of Breathlessness, and it can have a severely detrimental effect on your overall health. The answer is to enter the Positive Cycle of Activity instead and do exercises that make your muscles stronger.

However, during the winter, this can be especially tricky to do. The combination of cold weather and dark evenings can sap you of all motivation to go for a run or venture to the gym or pool – and can severely impact your enjoyment of those activities if you do manage to push yourself. Instead, why not try indoor activities like yoga, pilates or tai chi? The British Lung Foundation has lots of resources to get you started.

3. Avoid illnesses that can play havoc with your respiratory system

It may sound obvious, but one of the best ways to keep your lungs healthy during winter is simply to keep your distance from people who you suspect might have a cold or flu. That means avoiding large gatherings of people (especially indoors) where such viruses are rife for spreading.

Of course, that’s not always practical. So one of the best preventative measures you can take to help you avoid such illnesses is to get a yearly flu jab, as well as a one-off vaccination to ward off harsher lung-affecting conditions like pneumonia. If you have a lung condition like COPD or asthma, you should definitely look into the latter. If you’re near retirement age, you should be offered one by your GP automatically at your first doctor’s appointment once you’ve turned 65.

4. Keep away from second-hand smoke

Our recent blogs for World Lung Day and Lung Cancer Awareness Month listed smoking, including passive smoking, as one of the most damaging things for the health of your lungs. So we’d be remiss to write a blog about keeping your lungs healthy this winter without encouraging you to keep away from cigarettes or outdoor smoking areas. (In fact, even vaping can be bad for your lungs!).

Two hands hold a model of some lungs protecting them from cigarettes

Smoke from burning wood can be a factor in lowered lung health, too. So, if the fireplace you’re having checked in suggestion number one above is an open one, you may want to consider switching to an enclosed log burner where the smoke is pushed straight up the chimney and out of your breathing zone.

5. Ensure your workplace has local exhaust ventilation

Speaking of breathing zones, local exhaust ventilation is the number one way to make sure harmful dusts and chemicals stay out of yours while you’re in the workplace.

That’s true all year round, but during the cold weather, a combination of active heating systems (in spaces with indoor ventilation like bakeries and workshops) and windy weather (in outdoor LEV-suitable work areas like poultry farms) can cause more moisture to be blown around and breathed in by workers.

LEV systems are the backbone of any business’s compliance with the government’s Control of Substances Hazardous to Health act (COSHH, for short). So, if your employer isn’t providing you adequate protection against harmful fumes and respirable dusts, there’s no better time to discuss that with them.

Protect your lungs all year round

As an experienced supplier of LEV systems, we’re trusted by our customers to recommend and install the right COSHH-compliant system for workplaces in almost every industry you can think of.

To determine if your business is following COSHH regulations, read our blog post on conducting a COSHH assessment. Then browse to our sector for your industry using our site navigation above, or get in touch to discuss your needs in detail.

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