5 Tips for Preventing Flu This Winter

By on November 20, 2017

By Heather Lomax—

When the weather begins to grow cooler, that’s usually about the same time you start to notice the people around you sniffling and coughing and missing work. While no plan is fool-proof against the spread of a contagion like the flu, you can at least have the peace of mind that you’re taking the proper precautions.

1. Don’t Just Get the Flu Shot – Get It Early

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Many wait till the midst of flu season to begin setting up their yearly flu shot appointment, but considering it takes up to two weeks for antibodies to respond to the vaccination, the risk increases the longer you wait. Teens and young adults don’t have to worry as much about becoming infected, but for folks 50 and over, the chance of complications or even death increases with every year. And with many clinics offering vaccines for free or reduced costs, there’s no excuse not to get one. So, don’t take the risk – get the flu shot as soon as you’re able. 

2. Commit to Improving Your Fitness

When you exercise, not only do you increase your cardiovascular circulation, but the circulation of your entire body. Therefore, your immune system will become more active and ready to fight off infection. That doesn’t mean you have to start training for a marathon though. Studies show that even light to moderate exercise on a regular basis will stave off any nasty illnesses, including the common cold, and yes, the flu. If you’re a smoker, you’ll also do your immune system a big favor by quitting now instead of waiting for the New Year. Plus, it’ll make the beginning stages of your exercise regime far easier to delve into. 

3. Stay Nourished and Hydrated

It’s easy to forget to stay hydrated during the winter – you’re not sweating or overheating, so what’s the use? But you still need to keep your water up, no matter the temperature outside. Studies show that 75% of Americans suffer from chronic dehydration, which leads to poor immune health and slower healing. Combine this with the processed sugar and the “bad” fat in holiday turkey and ham, and you’ll have a body primed for bacterial and viral growth.

4. Ditch Bad Hygiene Habits for the New Year

Hopefully you wash your hands after each restroom visit at the very least, but during flu season, you’ll want to put in some extra effort to avoid contamination from everyday objects. Purchase some portable hand sanitizer as well as disinfectant wipes to use on your desk and around the house. When you sneeze or cough, be sure to cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow – not your hands! Also, try and avoid bad habits like scratching your nose and biting your nails; it may seem harmless, but this is the most immediate method of transmission for harmful germs and bacteria.

5. Cook Up Some Home Remedies

Hot tea on a cold winter’s day already sounds delightful, but it has more benefits than just warming you up. Most herbal teas will have immune support and healing properties, but be on the lookout for ones containing elderberry, ginger root, cardamom, and cinnamon. If you do end up getting sick, these herbs can also help you fight off an already-present infection, soothe your more annoying symptoms, and get you back on your feet.

Heather Lomax is a contributing writer and media relations specialist for Orangetheory Fitness. She writes for a variety of health blogs, and in her spare time, takes special interest in researching methods for achieving optimal fitness goals.

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5 Tips for Preventing Flu This Winter