Daily habits to prevent the common cold
The common cold may not seem like much of a threat as summer turns to autumn, but as surely as the seasons change, cold season is coming around, and thinking about good habits now can help prevent winter colds from getting you down. Here are a few simple tips that can help prevent the common cold this winter:
Wash your hands: this is the most obvious and oft-repeated measure for preventing illness, and with good reason: it works. Most people routinely wash their hands after going to the bathroom, and this is an excellent time to do so, but you should also make an effort to rinse, pat dry or otherwise clean your hands after they come into contact with other people’s hands or communal surfaces, including shopping carts, doorknobs, handles, desktops, shared pens, and other common objects that get passed around. You never know when the last time they washed their hands was.
Use antibacterial hand sanitizer. For those in-between times when you can’t or don’t want to wash your hands, hand sanitizer is a decent supplement, but you can only use it moderation. Remember, hand sanitizer is only effective 7 times before you need to just break down and wash your hands again. Additionally, you should use hand sanitizer sparingly between washes to avoid drying out your hands and the spread or creation of antibacterial resistant germs.
Dress for the weather. Cold germs spread more easily when the body is busy tending to other concerns, so dress for the weather. While cold weather may seem like a primary concern, over-dressing for the weather can be more trouble than the cold itself. Sweating in the cold can reduce the body’s ability to fight off infection and lead to colds, so dress in layers and reduce the amount that you’re wearing as the day goes on to reduce the amount of sweating you do inside your clothes.
Take a multivitamin: The body works best when it has all the nutrients it needs, and this includes fighting off cold germs. If you’re too busy trying to turn one type of nutrient into another, or if don’t have a sufficient supply of nutrients to begin with, you’ll be less efficient at producing white blood cells, which are the second line of defense against the cold, so take those multivitamins.
Eat well. Not too much, not too little, and at regular intervals. A constant supply of nutrients, particularly water-soluble nutrients is critical to the efficient operation of the body’s defense mechanisms. There are added health benefits of eating regularly, too.
Exercise. Whether it’s parking far away and walking to your office, or a scheduled bike ride, a trip to the gym or daily yoga in your bedroom, exercise increases the body’s ability to fight off infection, produces lean muscle mass, which is naturally resistant to infection, and slows your resting heart rate, which bacteria and viruses don’t like (it sends fewer nutrients past them and slows their progression through the body). Additionally, while you’re exercising, white blood cells are being distributed throughout your body faster, making them more able to find and fight off infections before they make you sick.
Sleep. Make sure that you’re getting enough sleep each day. The common understanding is that an adult requires about 8 hours of sleep per day, but this is highly variable among individuals, ranging from just over 4 hours per night to more than 12. The key here is understanding how much sleep you actually need, and then getting it at the same time every day. Good sleep hygiene builds immunity to all kinds of ailments, cold and flu among them. There are many ways to tell if you’re getting enough of the right kind of sleep.
Waking up once in the middle of your sleep schedule
Waking up feeling rested
Not needing extended sleep over your non-working schedule
Not feeling tired or worn-down in the late morning (early afternoon is ok)
Not *needing* a caffeine or energy drink “pick-me-up”
In short, there are a lot of simple, daily habits that you can take up now to help prevent disease in the future. Get started now, and avoid the cold all winter long!