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.
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.
- Does meditation have benefits for mind and body? (2014, February 26). Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/272833.php
- 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
- Good habits to keep you healthy. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.pamf.org/flu/healthytips.html
- 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
- 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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