December 02, 2013

Easy Ways to Sick-Proof Your Winter

With 200 cold viruses (and a few flu strains) around us, it’s no wonder adults get two to four colds a year. Follow the tips below so you won’t become a sneezy statistic.

  1. Make friends with fresh air. Common wisdom has it that staying indoors, where it’s warm and toasty, is easier on your immune system than being outside in the cold. the problem is, being inside puts you in close contact with other people – and their germs. Not only does escaping into the fresh air give you a break from all those germs circulating inside, but going for a stroll can actually boost your immunity.
  2. Relax. There are a million reasons why taking time to chill out might be the last item on your to-do list. But here’s why it should be a priority: Being stressed will increase your susceptibility to catching a cold. That may be because, over the long term, it leads to the ongoing release of stress hormones, such as glucocorticoids. These impede your body’s ability to produce cell-signaling molecules called cytokines, which trigger a disease-fighting response from your immune system.
  3. Squash bugs. Washing your hands often is always your best defense against germs. But if you’re caught high and dry, alcohol-based hand sanitizer work, too. Stash one in your bag or briefcase and one at your desk; the cleaner your hands, the better.
  4. Get plenty of sleep. An occasional restless night is nothing to worry about, but a continuous lack of zzz’s can hamper your immune system’s ability to function. Though experts often say that sleep requirements vary by individual, most agree that anything short of seven hours can triple your odds of catching a cold – and that means seven straight hours, with no middle-of-the-night wake-ups.
  5. Get vaccinated. The flu shot reduces your risk for infection by as much as 90%.

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