Winter months have an affect on all of us, no matter our age. The long nights encourage us to sleep more, while the colder weather can keep us from going outside and being active. 

For the elderly in particular, staying healthy is important in order to effectively age in place. However, unfortunately the ability to regulate internal body temperature can become a little lost as we age, meaning seniors are more at risk of cold-related problems, according to the American Heart Association. Though temperatures may not drop into the negatives in NSW as they may elsewhere, it's still important to be warier during winter months.

So how can you remain healthy this winter?

To keep your immune system happy, healthy and working properly, you may need to change your diet a little.

Keep your immune system up

An unfortunate fact is that elderly people can sometimes suffer from immune system problems. At the same time, people are more likely to suffer from a cold when temperatures drop, confirmed at the end of 2014 in a study by researchers from the Yale University School of Medicine.

To keep your immune system happy, healthy and working properly, you may need to change your diet a little. Vitamin A is a nutrient that can help bolster your immunity, so you should try to get more foods containing it onto your plate. Vegetables such as sweet potato, carrot and winter squash all contain the substance, as do collard greens, spinach and other leafie goodies. 

Remember to keep fit

Staying fit is vital not just for your physical, but also your mental health. It will keep your heart pumping, blood flowing and give your lungs plenty of fresh air. Also, the chemicals in your brain released during exercise can help stave off depression, and keep you feeling happy (not to mention it gives you the opportunity to go meet your friends). 

However, when the temperature drops, even in NSW, convincing yourself to go outside is a bit harder. As such, consider exercising within your home. Swill ball exercises, yoga and tai chi can all be performed indoors, as can bodyweight exercises such as pull-ups, press-ups and squats. 

If it's warm enough, which hopefully it will be in NSW, make sure you get outside in some woolly clothing and go for a walk. There's nothing like fresh air to invigorate you after being stuck inside for long periods of time! You could also get a number of your independent living community friends involved, making winter exercise a social, fun event – not just a task to complete each day.

How to stay healthy during winter if you're elderly