5 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Winter Months

A woman squeezes lemon juice into her tea.Even a minor cold can wreck an entire week, leaving people endlessly trying to catch up at work and home. The flu shot is still a highly effective way to avoid getting sick, but not all people are comfortable with receiving an immunization, and flu shots don’t protect against colds. If you want to stay healthy this flu and cold season, you no longer have to rely on home remedies and old wives’ tales. Research increasingly offers insight into preventing winter health misery.

1. Prevent the Spread of Illness

The best way to avoid getting sick isn’t particularly novel: wash your hands. Doing so reduces your likelihood of getting sick, and if you already caught something, you’ll be less likely to spread it to someone else. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible, and steer clear of people who are sick. If you get symptoms of a cold or flu or have a fever, stay home till you’re fever-free for at least 24 hours.

2. Meditate

Meditation is something of a wonder drug. It reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke, lowers blood pressure, and can even help combat mental health challenges. According to a study of 149 older adults, meditation may also reduce your risk of getting sick. In the study, 51 participants learned and practiced a yoga-based form of meditation called mindfulness meditation, and members of this group were less likely to get sick.

3. Choose the Right Supplements

Vitamin C won’t prevent you from getting sick, but one to two grams a day can shorten the duration of a cold you already have. Likewise, some research suggests that probiotics—microorganisms that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria—may help reduce the risk of getting sick. Probiotics are present in most yogurts, kefir, and other foods or supplements.

4. Get Moving

If you’re already sick, exercise is probably the last thing you want to do, and even when you’re not sick, the cold weather and shorter days of winter can sap your motivation to exercise. The same study that found meditation can boost immunity also found that adults who exercise regularly miss fewer days of work due to illness. Adults who exercised missed 241 days of work, while adults who didn’t missed 453 days. Even if you’re feeling tired and sluggish, then, exercise can help you avoid the misery of a cold.

5. Get Some Sleep

An increasingly demanding world leaves many people feeling like sleep is little more than wasted time. Sleep, though, is one of the best things you can do to remain healthy. According to a study that tracked sleep habits in 153 adults for 2 weeks, sleep may help combat seasonal illnesses. Researchers exposed study participants to a cold virus. People who had sleep disturbances or who slept fewer than 7 hours per night were 5.5 times more likely to get sick.

Taking a few extra precautions might require a bit of effort and some more time, but doing so can also save you the hassle of losing valuable time to a cold or flu. For updates on cold and flu season, check out the flu website sponsored by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

References:

  1. Does meditation have benefits for mind and body? (2014, February 26). Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/272833.php
  2. Exercise, meditation can fight cold, flu symptoms. (2012, July 10). Retrieved from http://www.med.wisc.edu/news-events/exercise-meditation-can-fight-cold-flu-symptoms/38221
  3. Good habits to keep you healthy. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.pamf.org/flu/healthytips.html
  4. Howard, B. (2014, October 12). How to stay healthy in cold and flu season. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/articles/how-to-stay-healthy-in-cold-and-flu-season-1413147941
  5. Tamkins, T. (n.d.). Study: Can more sleep help fight off colds? Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/01/13/health.sleep.colds/index.html?_s=PM:HEALTH

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  • Mia

    Mia

    November 3rd, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    Well, everything makes sense to me except the meditation. How on earth is this going to keep me from being susceptible to cold germs?

  • Dawn

    Dawn

    November 4th, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    I have this little bad habit of always wanting to be active and outdoors during the fair weather months, but during the winter? Forget about it! That’s why each winter I go month to month to a gym that does not make me sign a contract so that I will be sure to have NO EXCUSE to not stay active!

  • molly A

    molly A

    November 4th, 2014 at 2:46 PM

    Unfortunately I have no trouble with the sleep part during the winter because with the time change and all that seems like all I can do! I can barely keep my eyes open after 9pm, it is a struggle to stay up until the kids are all ready for bed and tucked in. It seems that it has been especially hard this year already, and even though I know it is healthy to get a good night’s rest, this feels different, like maybe a fatigue that I have not felt before. Do you think this could be indicative of something else or should I just give myself a little more time to adjust to the change of seasons?

  • Lindsey

    Lindsey

    November 5th, 2014 at 10:44 AM

    I agree that supplements can be beneficial but I also believe that changing your diet to a healthier one overall can do far more good than simply popping a pill. If you change what you eat to fresher offerings and things that are healthier for you, and incorporate this into a lifestyle that keeps you active, I am sure that you will see so many health benefits that you will start to wonder why you did not do this a little sooner! I think that taking a multivitamin every day can be a great thing but it is still not a substitute for the fresh nutrients that you can get via a healthy diet and lifestyle.

  • Susie

    Susie

    November 6th, 2014 at 3:55 AM

    Being mindful of your own health does have a trickle down effect… the more we take care of ourselves then the less likely it is that we are then spreading disease to others…

  • Linder

    Linder

    November 6th, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    No matter the time of year, we have to nourish not just our minds but also our souls. This is the only way that any of us can stay consistently healthy no matter what the weather is doing outside. I think that doing this is a combination of all of the things that are listed above, but mainly it is about focusing on yourself and being true to who you are and how you feel.

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