How to prevent colds and flu bugs this season

by Emily Borgeest, blogger

It’s that time of year, when the world catches a cold. Want to avoid the common cold and flu this year? There are lots of ways to prevent them!

Like most people, you are probably tired of hearing and reading about the importance of exercise. It’s a known fact—exercise is good for you, and should consist of 20-30 minutes of cardio three to five times a week. But what you may not know is that exercise isn’t just a means to help you maintain a healthy weight, improve cardiovascular fitness, improve your mood or add years to life, but it also helps your immune system.

It’s true— exercising regularly helps to fight off the common cold and even the flu. Researchers recently conducted a study of 1,000 adults of all ages. For 12 weeks during the fall and winter, the test subjects performed at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking, jogging or biking. The researchers found that those adults who exercised became ill with the flu or the common cold for an average of five days over the 12 week period, compared with an average 8.5 days of illness for those test subjects that did not exercise.

Physical exercise boosts the circulation of the anti-virus white blood cells.

It has been scientifically proven that during exercise, people receive what is referred to as a “runner’s high,” which is caused by the feel-good neurotransmitters that are released during aerobic activity. These neurotransmitters lead to “positive effects on the immune system, so it’s not surprising there’s a spike in immune cells,” says Len Horovitz, MD, a pulmonary specialist.

In addition to exercising, there are many steps you can take to stay healthy and avoid sickness during the flu season. Washing your hands periodically throughout the day is probably the easiest and single most important thing you can do to stay healthy. By scrubbing your hands with soap and warm water for approximately 20 seconds just a few times per day, you may dramatically improve your chances of staying healthy and avoiding the flu and colds.

Sleep is another critical factor in maintaining good health. Most people truly need at least seven hours of sleep a night. But the exact amount of sleep that may be right for you is difficult to predict; it varies from person to person.

A healthy diet high in vitamin C and loaded with whole grains, vegetables, and fruits also will help maintain good health. Among the many foods high in vitamin C are grapefruits, oranges, bell peppers, pineapples, and kiwis.

Lastly, the importance of water also should not be overlooked. It is recommended that adults drink eight to ten 8-ounce glasses of water each and every day. During cold and flu season, it is important to drink even more water. You’ll need to pay attention to your water intake; sometimes you may even feel hungry when in fact your body is really thirsting for water. Try making it a daily routine to drink several tall glasses of water throughout the day; it will definitely improve your health. Green tea is loaded with healthy antioxidants, so drink green tea if you can. You’ll be healthier, because green tea will boost your immune system.

It’s cold and flu season. so be sure to take the necessary precautions to avoid being brought down by these nasty viruses. Hop on the treadmill, enjoy nutritious whole foods, wash your hands, and guzzle down lots of water and green tea!