The ‘Beast from the East’ and rising energy prices will combine to hit the older generation this week.

New research has found that the over-55 age group is the most likely to use heating as a last resort, with 22 per cent claiming they do not like turning up the thermostat.

With the NHS issuing health warnings across the UK, AXA PPP healthcare shares seven tips on how to stay healthy and prevent illness as Arctic temperatures sweep the nation.

Hand and Foot pain - Many people with arthritis say their joints become more painful in winter, although there is no evidence that changes in the weather cause joint damage. Another painful condition that flares up in cold weather is Raynaud’s. This affects the fingers and toes, and causes the blood vessels under your skin go into a temporary spasm in reaction to the cold, cutting off normal blood flow. Daily exercise, such as swimming which is also easy on the joints, can boost a person's mental and physical state.

Winter blues - The symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are similar to other types of depression, but they occur during the onset of autumn and get worse as winter progresses in response to the amount of sunlight decreasing. Most people with SAD return to normal as spring and summer approach. As with other forms of depression, the main symptoms include a low mood and a loss of pleasure or interest in normal, everyday activities. Some people with SAD experience recurring episodes of unipolar depression (solely depressive symptoms), whilst others may find they experience mild episodes of bipolar depression (periods of lows followed by manic periods where you feel euphoric and abnormally energetic).

Loneliness - According to Age UK, more than one-million people will go a month without speaking to anyone. But it’s not just the elderly who experience loneliness during winter, it is an issue that can affect the physical and mental wellbeing of people of all ages. Loneliness and isolation can have a massive impact on mental health, making sufferers feel more stressed, lowering self-esteem and resulting in a negative impact on overall wellbeing. However, it is important to remember you are not alone in feeling like this, especially over winter, and there are several steps which can be taken to overcome loneliness, including reaching out to those you feel you are closest to and saying yes to social opportunities. Volunteering can also help you make connections you may not have previously known about.

Flu - Flu is an infectious and common viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes and symptoms tend to be more severe and last for longer than the common cold. You can catch flu all year round, but it is especially common in winter. For many the best remedy is to rest at home, keep warm and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Pain killers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can help lower a high temperature and relieve aches.

Norovirus - Also known as the winter vomiting bug, norovirus is an extremely infectious stomach bug. It can strike all year round, but is more common in winter and in places such as hotels and schools. Young children and the elderly are especially at risk. The illness is unpleasant, but it's usually over within a couple of days. If you are unwell with vomiting and diarrhoea, it's important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, and oral rehydration fluids (available from pharmacies), can also reduce the risk of dehydration.

Sore Throat - Sore throats are common in winter and are almost always caused by viral infections. There's some evidence that changes in temperature, such as going from a warm, centrally heated room to the icy outdoors, can also affect the throat. One quick and easy remedy for relieving the symptoms of a sore throat is to gargle with warm salty water.

Exercise injuries - Don’t let the cold weather put you off exercise – wrap up warm and be careful if it’s wet or icy. But when the temperature drops, it is important to spend extra time to warm up properly before exercising to help prevent injuries and increase flexibility. Start with either a gentle walk or march on the spot. Do this for a couple of minutes, then increase the intensity a little. If you are walking, walk a little faster and really move your arms. For marching on the spot, march faster and add some arm circles. Continue doing this for a couple more minutes or until you feel warm. The last part of your warm-up is to stretch. This should only ever be done once you are warm, as you can cause an injury if you stretch a muscle when it's cold.

For more information visit AXA PPP healthcare’s online Winter Wellbeing centre.