Winter is the peak time of year to suffer from a cold, flu or other respiratory illness. While many people blame cold weather for the rise in illnesses at this time of year, it’s not the weather itself that gets you sick. Rather, it’s the fact that winter weather keeps people more cooped up indoors, where it’s easier for germs to spread from person to person.
So what can you do to stay illness-free during these next few months (and all year-round)? Here some tips that can help reduce your chances of getting sick:
Wash your hands. Your hands come in contact with germy surfaces all day long. Soap and water are effective at washing away germs but make sure you scrub hands for at least 20 seconds and then dry thoroughly.
Don’t touch your face. The most common ways for germs to enter your body are through your nose, eyes and mouth. One study found that people who touch their eyes and nose are over 40 percent more likely to get sick.
Wipe down surfaces often. Flu viruses can linger on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours, so get into a habit of wiping down things that are touched often, such as phones, light switches and door knobs.
Go to sleep. Sleep is important to your health in so many ways but it’s crucial to keeping your immune system running strong. Adults should aim for at least 7 hours a night.
Eat a well-balanced diet. Maintaining a healthy diet will keep your body supplied with the nutrients it needs to help ward off any potential illnesses you may face.
Stay well-hydrated. You may not think about drinking water or other fluids during colder weather as much as you do when it’s warm outside, but it’s still important to stay well-hydrated at this time of year. Dehydration lowers your immune response.
Exercise regularly. Not only is exercise good for your heart and your waistline but it can help you avoid getting sick by keeping your immune function high.
Find ways to de-stress. Stress hormones can weaken your immune system and you need your immune system working at full strength to fight the host of viruses and bacteria you’re likely to come in contact with at this time of year.