How to Stay Healthy This Winter!
With colder weather comes longer lines at the Student Health Clinic and pharmacies around campus. This winter, beat common sicknesses by focusing on the immune system. The best offense is a good defense, after all. Here are some tips and tricks to stay healthy during this flu season.
- Get a flu shot. An influenza vaccination can reduce the risk of flu illness by 50 to 60 percent and can decrease the severity and side effects if someone gets sick. Students can get their flu vaccines at any Student Health Clinic location with no appointment necessary.
- Carry hand sanitizer. Studies show that people who frequently use hand sanitizer catch viruses 59 percent less than people who don’t use it regularly. Keep a travel size in a back pack to use when in public places on campus.
- Hang out with friends. Scientists know that friendships counteract the harmful effects of stress hormones, but new research also suggests that the more social a person is, the healthier they’ll be (Prevention). In one study, students who hung out in larger groups had more flu-fighting antibodies than those who hung out in smaller groups or by themselves (Carnegie Mellon).
- Set new goals. The idea is to set goals with reachable targets. At the beginning of each week, pick at least one challenge to accomplish by Friday. When we challenge ourselves mentally and physically, our bodies become more alert, fighting against viruses and sickness harder than normal.
- Get a massage. In a 500-person study, a massage lowered cortisol levels by up to 53 percent. Experts believe this boost can also increase serotonin and dopamine, mood boosters that may help protect the immune system as well.
- Take vitamins. Look for one with 100 percent of the recommended daily values of vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D and the minerals chromium, copper, folic acid, selenium, calcium and zinc to maximize immunity.
- Keep it moving. Those who participate in moderate activity are up to 35 percent less likely to catch a cold. One hour a day of brisk walking, jogging, hiking or playing sports can heighten immune function, as well as helping you keep those New Year’s resolutions!
- Get enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is the most important thing to do this season, because any other precautions someone takes against cold or flu won’t offer the same protection if their body is too tired to fight the virus. The University of Chicago found that those getting the proper eight hours of sleep per day had double the amount of flu-fighting antibodies than those who only received an average of four hours.
Adapted from an article in Prevention