How to stay healthy during winter as a student athlete


We’d all rather avoid catching a nasty cold or getting run down during the festive season, but for student athletes it’s crucial to stay well – both at Christmas and beyond.

Losing a few days of training due to illness or injury isn’t just a temporary setback; it can have a huge impact on your performance.

Prevention is always better than cure, so take care and get into some good winter wellness habits to give yourself the best chance of keeping fit.

Follow Sports and Exercise Medicine specialist Mark Gillett’s five key recommendations to help you stay healthy during the festive break…


During the warmer months we don’t usually need a reminder to stay hydrated, but when it’s icy outside it’s easy to forget to drink regularly throughout the day. Keep on top of your festive treats with at least 2 litres of water per day.


The best way to get all your vitamins and nutrients is on your plate, but an extra 1g of vitamin C per day will turbocharge your immune system. Try to combine this with a zinc supplement to give your health an extra boost and keep germs at bay.

Hand hygiene

Being in contact with so many friends and relatives at Christmas increases the risk of catching a virus that can lead to an upper respiratory tract infection or a gastrointestinal upset. Applying squirts from a small bottle of alcohol hand gel to your hands frequently throughout the day can dramatically reduce the chances of getting ill.

Get some rest

The new year will bring the stresses and strains of competition, so use this opportunity to unwind, relax and get some quality sleep. Sleep quality is adversely affected by festive excesses like alcohol and rich food, so try programming in days to optimise your rest. Every third day, plan a long walk, good diet, no alcohol and some high-quality sleep.

Tick over

If your training centre closes over Christmas, ensure that you have a training programme prepared to keep your fitness in check. This should be targeted at specific aspects of your fitness so that when you return in the new year your coach has a good idea where you are at.