7 Simple Ways to Stay Healthy this Cold & Flu Season
Thursday, November 14, 2010

The mornings are crisper, leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping, and the sniffles are starting. We all know that the annual change of seasons is also the beginning of another cold and flu season. This year, try following these easy tips to escape the yearly bugs. This winter, the team at Peak Life hopes you spend your sick days on the ski slopes, not in bed with a head cold.

1. Get Your Flu Shot!

Well that's obvious, right? Even though it's the simplest way to ensure you won't come down with the dreaded virus, many of us forget to get to the doctor or clinic or prefer to "take our chances." Instead of a few seconds of discomfort, you could end up with a week full of aches, pains, fevers, and more. The tricky flu virus changes every year so last year's shot won't cover you for this year's flu. Many employers now offer free (or nearly free) flu shots at work - ask if they will be available for you. If not, many pharmacies offer the service. Enlist a friend or family member to go with you ASAP so you keep the appointment!

2. Hands Off!

Bacteria and viruses need a way into your body in order to get you sick. They're most likely to get in through your own hands touching your face. The habit of touching our eyes, nose, and mouth is one we're usually not conscious of. Try to change this behavior by noting when you find yourself with your hands on your face most often. Also, make sure to wash your hands with more frequency (with soap and for at least 15 seconds) - especially before you touch the food that will enter your mouth!

3. Stay Active!

The dipping temperatures and shorter daylight hours might seem like the perfect excuse for cutting back on exercise. However, maintaining our fitness is essential to maintaining our total health - including cold and flu protection. Fit, healthy bodies have stronger immune systems that will help fight off infections before you fall ill. If the cold is standing in the way of your workouts, try moving exercise in doors with a group exercise class at the gym, workout DVD, or stationary exercise machine.

4. Disinfect!

Most germs aren't in hiding. You can find them easiest in the places you touch the most like your desk and your phone. Spray down your desk with disinfectant at least once a week. Make an appointment on your calendar to do so! Be careful where you lay down your cell phone to. We tend to lay down our phones in high-traffic (read: germy) areas right before putting them up to our faces - allowing germs in. Wipe down your phone with a gentle disinfecting cloth every other day and be careful not to loan it out to sick friends!

5. Eat for Immunity!

There's no magic food that will guarantee you escape from seasonal bugs; however, there are a few smarter choices to make for food and drink during this season. Our white blood cells include killer cells that destroy the bacteria and viruses that sneak into our bodies. Fiber-rich foods have beta-glucans that can give our killer cells the boost they need to perform at their deadly best. Oatmeal (especially made from steel cut oats) is a great source. Tomatoes may also help out your killer cells. What you don't eat is important too! To avoid ingesting extra bacteria/viruses, try avoiding communal snacks (like the bowl of candy in the break room) that everyone at the office has been dipping their hands into!

6. Relax!

Stress and fatigue can have a negative impact on your body's immunity. Indulge in your favorite stress-busting (healthy) activities like a hot bath, a favorite movie, or a massage when you're feeling anxious and tense. Make an extra effort to get the sleep you need during cold and flu season so your body is refreshed and ready to fight off infection. Avoid cigarettes and alcohol as a means to relaxation though! Both of these vices can weaken your body's defenses against illness.

7. Choose disposable!

Although it's better for the environment to reuse supplies like handkerchiefs, towels, cups, and mugs, you could be putting yourself at extra risk for sickness by being green. Germs can linger on the towels we use to wipe our hands so switch to paper towels when you (or someone at home/in the office) is sick. Pick disposable tissues when you have the sniffles and throw them away immediately after use (then wash your hands!) Sipping hot tea out of your favorite mug? Remember to run it through a hot cycle in the dishwasher in order to disinfect it after every use.