The holiday season may be over, but the flu season continues on. While you may not find yourself out and about as much, chances are you’re still going out to social events or public places. If you’ve been lucky enough, you haven’t gotten sick, which means now is the time to act. With the flu pummeling every corner of the country the best defense is to be proactive. What can be done to avoid getting sick? Listed in this blog are several courses of action you may not have considered yet, and one that’s quite obvious.
For starters, something you should do is move your winter workouts outdoors. While many people make getting healthier a New Year’s resolution, ironically, going to the gym can make you the opposite. According to a study in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, 63% of gym equipment harbors cold viruses. Weights are more likely to be contaminated than treadmills or stationary bikes. There are other benefits to working out outside too, like getting a healthy dose of Vitamin D, which will boost your immune system. However, if an outside workout seems impossible, opt for a class that doesn’t require any equipment, or try a yoga class and bring your own mat.
Online shopping is another big way to prevent sickness. Crowded stores and supermarkets are great places to get the flu. One study at the University of Arizona in Tucson found colostrum bacteria on 72% of grocery store carts and E.coli on more than 20% of them. If you still have to go out, use antibacterial wipes on shopping cart handles. Some stores even offer them when you get your cart.
Despite party season being over, you may still find yourself getting together with large groups of people. Fortunately, it isn’t handshakes that typically transmit germs. Unfortunately, it is buffets. When food is left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, it’s bacteria levels may become high enough to cause a food-borne illness, aka a stomach virus. The best thing you can do is make yourself a plate as soon as you arrive, to be safe. If typically cold food, like shrimp cocktail, is room temperature, your best bet will be to avoid it.
The truth is, germs can’t enter your body unless you touch your mouth. If you can, try and break yourself of the unconscious habit of touching your face. If you can cut back, you will reduce the chances that you’ll give yourself a cold, especially if you already wash your hands regularly.
One of the more obvious things that you can do to avoid getting sick is get a flu shot. The is the number one thing you can do to protect yourself and prevent a week of sick time. The shot does take about two weeks for the antibodies to develop in your body, so the sooner you get it, the better. The good news is that its easy to get the shot. Most drug stores with pharmacies allow you to walk in and get vaccinated on the spot.
Another important thing you can do is focus on getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep can actually make you prone to getting sick. Keep in mind that while alcohol can help you fall asleep, it also means you’ll be more likely to wake up in the middle of the night. Try to limit yourself to one drink when you go out so you can get a good night’s rest.
And finally, treat yourself. A study at Carnegie Mellon University found that happy people are more immune to colds. Be sure to take time for yourself and just focus on you.
In the first edition of flu prevention, we covered basics, such as handwashing, and what products you should keep on hand to keep sickness away. Hopefully, you feel better prepared to take on the season, but if not, refer to our previous blog, titled “Your Mother Was Wrong”, and our flu prevention flyer for more information.