5 ways to stay healthy this winter
By Emily Wood, MD, InterMed Infectious Diseases department
Winter brings a variety of wonderful activities, from skiing to building snowmen. Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year generally associated with colds and flu. However, you can reduce your chances of being sick by following a few simple steps:
Wash your hands regularly
Good old soap and water is your best option — just remember to wash for about 20 seconds, the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends washing your hands:
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- Before eating food
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick, changing diapers, or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
- After touching garbage.
Make healthy food choices
Give your immune system a boost by eating more healthy fruits and vegetables and fewer sugary foods. And, drink plenty of water and healthy beverages (sorry, this doesn’t include coffee or alcohol, which tend to dehydrate our bodies).
Exercise is another terrific way to strengthen your immune system. Take a brisk walk, help the kids build a snow fort, or try a Tai Chi class at a local community education program.
Cover your cough and sneeze
Help stop the spread of germs that cause colds and flu by coughing or sneezing into your sleeve.
Get a flu shot
According to the Centers for Disease Control, receiving the annual flu vaccine is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from the flu. Flu season is just starting, so it’s still a good time to be vaccinated. Remember, the flu shot take up to 2 weeks to reach its full level of protection, so the sooner, the better!