Unfortunately there are often flu and other illness outbreaks that spread throughout our communities. Although sometimes it feels like catching a cold is inevitable, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and support your immune system. Here are our top tips to protect yourself from getting sick.
1. Wash Your Hands
This is one of the simplest and most effective methods to protect yourself against infectious illnesses. Make sure you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds several times throughout the day, and especially before you eat and after touching public surfaces like door handles and railings. Using hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol is an effective way to disinfect your hands when you’re on the go. Make sure you also regularly wipe down your cell phone, laptop, steering wheel, and other high-contact surfaces.
2. Stay Hydrated
Proper hydration is necessary for the immune system to function well. Ideally you should aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water each day. For example, a 150lb adult should drink a minimum of 75oz of water daily. More water is needed during warmer weather and with rigorous activities.
3. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is directly tied to immune function through the production and regulation of immune cells and inflammatory proteins. Studies show that sleep deprivation increases the risk of contracting a virus. Studies also show that sleep deprivation can increase the time it takes for individuals to recover from an illness. Adults should aim for 7-8 hours per night of restful sleep. Children need 10 or more hours of sleep each night.
4. Practice Stress Management
Chronic stress plays a huge role in your body’s immune function. Cortisol, the major stress hormone, decreases the body’s ability to fight off infection. Sustained high levels of cortisol place you at greater risk of contracting viruses and other contagious diseases. Regularly practicing stress-management techniques, like meditation and yoga, can lower cortisol levels and support a healthy immune system.
5. Engage in Light-Moderate Exercise
Research shows that the risk of upper respiratory tract infection is increased with both sedentary activity and with high-intensity exercise. The risk tends to be lowest in individuals engaging in light-moderate intensity exercise. This doesn’t mean that you should always avoid high-intensity exercise, but when you’re focusing on protecting yourself against a cold or the flu, stick with lighter exercise. Walking, light jogging, biking, yoga, and swimming are some great examples of ways to stay active and boost your immune function.
As chiropractors, we are muscle and joint specialists, but we are happy to be your resource for overall health information as well. Please contact our office for more information on how to keep yourself and and your family healthy.
- Ibarra-Coronado, E. G., Pantaleón-Martínez, A. M., Velazquéz-Moctezuma, J., Prospéro-García, O., Méndez-Díaz, M., Pérez-Tapia, M., … & Morales-Montor, J. (2015). The bidirectional relationship between sleep and immunity against infections. Journal of immunology research, 2015.
- Nieman DC. Exercise, infection, and immunity. Int J Sports Med. 1994;15 Suppl 3:S131–141.