TOG x ZoomDoc: Four simple ways to stay healthy this winter

As TOG’s first dedicated health clinic opens in Henry Wood House, we speak with ZoomDoc co-founder, Dr Kenny Livingstone, about how to keep in shape as the season changes

With the days shortening and the temperature dropping, there’s no denying it: winter is coming. And with winter, comes the inevitable reemergence of coughs, sniffles and sneezes.

Of course, we still have Covid-19 to contend with, and with many people heading back to the office (along with kids going back to school), we all need to make sure we’re doing everything we can – more than ever before – to stay healthy over the coming months. Which is why we’ve partnered with ZoomDoc, a platform with over 500 GPs across the country that offers online consultations, as well as several health tests tailored for both men and women, to provide our members with weekly, on-site health clinics, ensuring they feel supported in their health as they return to our work spaces.

With that in mind, we spoke with Dr Kenny Livingstone, ZoomDoc’s chief medical officer, to find out how to give yourself a health boost this coming season. 

Get vaccinated 

If you haven’t already, make sure you get your Covid vaccinations, both of them, as soon as possible. “The difficulty is that the population hasn’t been mixing much the past year-and-a-half, and now that we are all mixing, we’re going to have a convergence of normal coughs, colds and regular influenza,” says Dr Livingstone. “We’re not going to be able to determine, initially, what you have. The most important thing is protecting yourself – especially from the delta variant – so having the Covid vaccinations will provide herd immunity and reduce the risks for all of us.”

According to Dr Livingstone, this also goes for the flu vaccine, something typically reserved for the elderly. By vaccinating yourself – and your kids if you have any – you’ll be protecting yourself from potentially falling ill with flu and Covid at the same time, and help to protect our healthcare system too in the process. Vaccinated people are much less likely to require medical attention if they catch either virus.

Mask up

“This is a contentious issue, but at the moment we still advise that people wear masks, even though it’s not the law,” says Dr Livingstone. “Use them on public transport, in enclosed spaces, when moving around the workplace and when you’re up close with others – to protect yourself, colleagues, family and friends.

“We’re delicately balanced at the moment. One-fifth of our intensive care unit beds are taken up by Covid patients, which is high. If there’s a surge of cases, we could all find ourselves in some sort of de facto restrictions and/or lockdown unless we’re careful.” For Dr Livingstone, masks, hand hygiene, good ventilation and social distancing are all ways in which we can protect not only ourselves and our families, but our way of life, too.

Take vitamins, exercise and hydrate

Going into the autumn and winter season, keeping our immune systems strong will help us to fight off any (regular seasonal) bugs doing the rounds. “Take regular vitamins or multivitamins if you don’t already,” suggests Dr Livingstone. “Vitamins D, C and zinc are some key vitamins that will boost your immune system’s performance. There have been some studies that show populations with high levels of vitamin D actually do better than populations with lower levels. Starting those things now, before we approach autumn and winter, will definitely protect you.”

Dr Livingstone also suggests regular exercise, as well as plenty of fluids, to keep your body operating at an optimum level.

Work on your nutrition

It’s one of the most important aspects of our health, yet we don’t always prioritise nutrition and a healthy, well-rounded diet. “We know that patients who are overweight and lead a more sedentary lifestyle have greater risks of falling ill,” says Dr Livingstone. “And that’s not just in terms of Covid-19,” he continues, “but with every infection, whether that’s flu, a greater risk of diabetes and the complications therein, heart attacks and so on.

Book in with ZoomDoc here for on-demand GP appointments, Covid-19 Fit to Fly tests, health screens, blood tests, prescriptions and more. Appointments will be available every Tuesday and Thursday at Henry Wood House, from the 7th of September