6 easy ways to sick-proof your winter
Don't become another sneezy statistic
JANUARY 1, 2008 (www.msnbc.msn.com) - With 200 cold viruses (not to mention dozens of flu strains) around us, it's no wonder adults get two to four colds a year. Follow the tips below so you won't become another sneezy statistic.
Don't go it alone
The more relationships you tap into (friends, family), the less susceptible you are to catching a cold, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh say.
The flu shot reduces your risk for infection by as much as 90 percent, says Anne Moscona, M.D., professor of microbiology and immunology at the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City. (You can find a nurse or doctor near you at FluClinicLocator.org.) Or ask your doc about the highly effective nasal-spray vaccine FluMist.
Catch quality shut-eye
Sleeping at least seven hours a night diminishes levels of stress hormones that can increase your risk of getting sick, Dr. Moscona says. Slumber also seems to help your immune system remember how to fight off illnesses it has dealt with in the past, according to the journal Sleep.
Break a sweat
Going for a brisk, 45-minute walk five times a week reduces colds, possibly by stimulating the production of more infection-fighting cells, a study in The American Journal of Medicine indicates. Get moving and the germs will move along, too.
Eat to beat it
Healthy people who had a drink with the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri (also found in Stonyfield Farms yogurt) daily for 12 weeks called in sick for respiratory or stomach problems 60 percent fewer times than those who didn't consume it, notes Environmental Health.
Washing your hands often is always your best defense against germs. But if you're caught high and dry, alcohol-based hand sanitizers work, too, says Marc Siegel, M.D., associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine in NYC. Stash one in your bag and one at your desk; the cleaner your hands, the better.