There’s no doubt about it, winter is the season of coughs, sniffles, fevers, and the flu. Research has shown that our immune systems simply don’t work as well in colder temperatures. Furthermore, challenging weather drives us inside, where recirculating air systems make catching a family member’s virus almost unavoidable.
So how can you increase the odds that you’ll stay healthy during a bracing winter?
Wash Your Hands
Germs are everywhere, especially on hard surfaces like doorknobs, railings, train poles, and bus straps. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water to avoid exposure to bacteria and viruses, and always scrub your hands before eating.
Keep To Your Fitness Routine
Frigid weather and fewer hours of daylight conspire to make even the best-made fitness plans go awry. But regular exercise promotes good circulation, which allows white blood cells and other substances of the immune system get where they need to go. A quick trip to the gym won’t only make you feel good, it can help keep you healthy.
Get A Flu Shot
The flu causes workers in the U.S. to lose about seventeen million work days per year. A bad case can lay you up for ten days or more. A flu shot isn’t a guarantee that you won’t get sick, but your odds of staying healthy are better. Consider scheduling a shot in October or November, before the flu season begins.
Calm The Carb Cravings
Snacking on carbs causes a boost in serotonin levels, which helps you feel happier. During the long winter nights, you may be tempted to reach for less-than-healthy snacks to lift yourself out of the winter blues. But the extra pounds won’t improve your overall health. Instead, seek out protein to keep your stomach full longer.
While you’re thinking about your diet, consider taking in plenty of vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc, all necessary for the immune system to function well.
Hang Out With Friends
Though you may be tempted to curl up by a fire with a book, making the effort to stay connected with friends is important for your health. A recent Carnegie Mellon study showed that college students with a large social network have more flu antibodies in their system than those who kept to smaller groups. Hanging out with people has a positive effect on your immune system.
Get A Massage
Chronic stress can produce many physical changes in your body, including reducing the amount of white blood cells, the very lymphocytes you need to fight infection. The anxiety-reducing effects of a really good massage can significantly reduce levels of stress and thus boost your immune system.
It may sound simple, but the best way to stay healthy is to eat well and in moderation, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep, all year round.