7 Ways To Avoid Getting Sick This Winter
Have colds and the flu become an inevitable part of your winter holidays? Sneak these easy disease-fighting habits into your life to help stop sickness in it’s tracks.
1. Sneeze and Cough into Your Arm or a Tissue
Whoever taught us to cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze got it wrong. That just puts the germs right on our hands, where you can spread them to objects–and other people. Instead, hold the crook of your elbow over your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough if a tissue isn’t handy. It’s pretty rare that you shake someone’s elbow or scratch your eye with an elbow, after all.
2. Wash Your Hands and Wash Them Often
When the US Naval Health Research Center conducted a study of 40,000 recruits who were ordered to wash their hands five times a day, they found that recruits cut their incidence of respiratory illnesses by 45%.
3. Be Smart About Hand-Drying in Public Restrooms
Studies find a shockingly large percentage of people fail to wash their hands after using a public toilet, and every single one of them touches the door handle on the way out. So after washing your hands, use a paper towel to turn off the tap. Use another paper towel to dry your hands, then open the door with that paper towel as a barrier between you and the handle.
4. Get a Flu Shot Every Year
The best prevention strategy for influenza is an annual vaccination. The vaccine is particularly important for people at risk of serious complications from the flu. This includes healthcare workers, people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma, kidney problems or heart disease, people aged over 65 and pregnant women. People whose immune systems are weakened through illness or medication should also ask their family doctor about getting the shot.
5. Change Your Toothbrush Every Three Months
You think your toothbrush gets your teeth clean–and it does. But once you’ve finished brushing, it can be a breeding ground for germs. Most dentists recommend you change your toothbrush every two to three months. It’s also a good idea to replace it after you’ve had a cold or flu to prevent reinfection.
6. Use a Humidifier
Dry air provides the perfect environment for cold viruses to thrive, which is one reason why colds are so much more common in winter. And when your mucous membranes dry out, your nose and throat are more prone to irritation. Use a room humidifier, but make sure you change the water daily and clean it every few days.
7. Get Moving
Hit the gym, join a dance class, or go for a brisk walk if you can handle the colder weather. A recent study found that older women who did 45 minutes of moderate exercise, five times a week for a year, were up to three times less likely to get a cold than the more sedentary women. The researchers found that the exercisers’ immunity was strongest in the last three months of the study.