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How To Avoid Getting Sick

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Who Gets Sick?

When Dr. Sheldon Cohen and his team at

Carnegie Mellon University studied which

participants became sick after having a cold

or flu virus squirted in their noses and then

isolating them in a hotel room (I know, you’re

thinking, “How can I get a spot in that study?!”),

they found that the people who did NOT get

sick had several things in common.

The healthy subjects had experienced less stress,

had better sleep habits, typically experienced

more positive emotion, were more sociable,

and had more diverse social networks.

Another study found that women who walked

five days a week for 35-45 minutes experienced

half the number of days with cold symptoms as

a control group that did not exercise.


Immune System Strength

The strength of your immune system is what

helps to determine whether you are going to

get a cold after exposure to a cold virus.

And there are several things that can affect the

strength of your immune system:  how old you

are, whether you smoke cigarettes, how much

regular sleep you get, the quality of nutrition

you receive, and your level of mental stress.


Some Healthy DOs and DON’Ts:

Here are some things you should and should not do

to decrease your chances of becoming sick if you

are exposed to cold and flu viruses (and unless

you live under a rock, you’re going to be!) :


1.  DO eat a well-balanced diet every day.

Good nutrition is your #1 weapon of defense for

maintaining a healthy immune system.

If you are trying to lose weight, do it gradually,

as immune function is suppressed during periods

of low caloric intake and quick weight loss.

2.  DON’T skimp on sleep.

While there is no “magic number,” most people

need 7-8 hours of sleep each night in order to

have optimal immune system functioning.

Let other things go, but not your rest.

3.  Manage your stress in healthy ways.

You can’t always control how much stress you

have to deal with, but you have control over how

you deal with it.  Take time each week to relax

completely, learn cognitive techniques for

managing stress and anxiety, increase

opportunities to experience joy, peace, and

happiness each week, exercise regularly,

and spend time with people that you like.


Reasons to Hope for Health

The fact that not every person exposed to a

virus gets sick, and that people who live

healthier lifestyles and manage their stress

consistently are able to decrease their

chances of becoming sick should give you

hope that you can do a lot to avoid getting

sick this cold and flu season. Exposure to

a virus alone is not enough to get you sick!

That’s wonderful news for all of us.

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