Six ways to prevent colds and make staying healthy this winter as easy as a walk in the park.
- Wash Your Hands the Correct Way: Sudsing up kills germs as well as removes the dirt that they hide in, so be sure to wash often, especially after touching anything that gets touched often. Such as, pens, doorknobs, phones, and remote controls. Washing your hands right means lathering up for at least 20 seconds (about the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday), and get between your fingers and under your nails. Rinse thoroughly, and dry (germs stick more easily when it’s wet). Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can work in a pinch, but won’t remove dirt as reliably as lathering with soap and water. Look for a sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol, and be sure to rub it all over your hands as if you were washing them.
- Walk More: A brisk daily walk is the single most powerful thing you can do to prevent illness. Research has found that, people who exercise five days a week for 20 minutes or more reduced the number of days they were sick by 43%. When you get your heart rate up and get your lungs working, immune cells that fight infection circulate through your blood, and stay active for about three hours afterward.
- Take a 10 Minute Breather: When you feel constantly anxious, levels of the stress hormone cortisol skyrocket, which can dampen your immune system, making it harder to fight off a virus. In fact, research has shown that people who are coping with lots of stress have double the risk of getting sick. While you can’t control what stress comes your way, you can control your reaction to it, and that’s where the protection lies. One study shows that people who incorporate regular meditation into their lives (along with exercise) have a 40 to 50 percent reduction in upper respiratory infections.
- Eat Your Vitamins: There is no one magical nutrient that keeps you healthy. Rather, it’s getting a good mix of vitamins and minerals that works best to strengthen your immune system. The nutrients and antioxidants in fresh produce all work together to promote good health and that combination can not be replicated in a pill. To get your daily dose, have one or more fruits and/or vegetables at each meal. For example, try blueberries and bananas at breakfast, spinach leaves and tomato on a sandwich at lunch, carrots dipped in hummus for a snack, and roasted broccoli at dinner.
- Sleep at Least 7 Hours a Night: Research shows that people who average less than 7 hours a night are most likely to get a cold as those who average 8 hours or more. If you are run-down, it is a stress on your body, and that can suppress the immune system. To rest best, turn in at the same time every night, and don’t forget your wind-down routine: 30 minutes to an hour before bed, do something relaxing like reading a book.
- Get Your Spine Checked and Adjusted: Chiropractic patients have 200% greater immune strength. Researchers measured the immune systems of people under chiropractic care compared to those in the general population and those with cancer and other serious diseases. In the initial 3 year study of 107 individuals who had been under chiropractic care for five years or more, the chiropractic patients were found to have a 200% greater immune competence than people who had not received chiropractic care, and a 400% greater immune competence than people with cancer and other serious diseases. This did not diminish with age.¹