Between holiday travel, new years celebrations and general outdoor adventures in the cold, we’re all at risk of getting sick. And, on average, most men catch two to three colds per year. Don’t let the sniffles spoil your fun. Instead, put in a little effort now to fortify the armor of your immune system. We did some research and spoke to a few medical experts to devise the ultimate defense plan. Implement these five tactics and keep yourself feeling great all season long.
Consistent Sweat Sessions
You’re already an active guy. Keep it up. Because a recent analysis of studies found that exercise boosts your immune system and protects you against illness. And it can even help you recover faster if you do end up getting sick. Why? “Any kind of stress on the body—whether that’s a workout or infection, or extreme environmental condition—the normal response that our bodies have to stress is to increase the number of white blood cells in the blood,” says Dr. Sandra Kesh, who specializes in infectious disease and internal medicine. “They are out there to kind of patrol for anything that might be harmful, any toxins and anything that might cause damage.”
Increase Your Sleep
Sleep is always an essential when it comes to your health, but especially during this time of year. A study from the University of California found that people who log fewer than six hours a night are four times more likely to become ill when exposed to a virus, compared to those who got in a solid seven hours or more each night. Researchers found that the less sleep you get, the more vulnerable you are to getting sick. And unfortunately, the National Sleep Foundation has found that one in five Americans gets less than six hours of sleep on the average work night.
Supercharge Your Supplements
Upping your vitamin game is a smart way to keep your immune system primed and functioning at peak condition. There is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies can make you more susceptible to catching something when it’s in the air. The National Institutes of Health recommend a regular regimen of vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc (which you can get in these Nature Made tablets). Additionally, homeopathic ingredients like elderberry and echinacea, along with digestive boosters like probiotics, are believed to boost your natural immune response as well.
End Showers With a Shot of Cold Water
It’s kind of the last thing you want to do on a frosty winter morning, but one of the best things you can do for health is take a cold shower in the morning. Thankfully, you don’t have to jump into an icy downpour. A study on ‘The Effect of Cold Showering on Health and Work’ found that showering as normal and then turning your shower to cold for the last few moments (up to 60 seconds) can reduce your risk of getting sick. At the end of the study, they found those who embraced the cold had a 29% reduction in sick days, compared to their coworkers who didn’t take a cold shower.
Avoid Touching Your Face
According to the doctors at Intermountain Healthcare, the average person touches their face three to five times … a minute. After the pandemic, we’re much more aware of how germs spread, but it’s still a challenge to break this habit. If you have germs on your hands and you rub your eye or touch your nose, you’re potentially placing those germs in contact with your throat, lungs and sinuses. Don’t give them the opportunity to infiltrate your body. In the meantime, keep hand sanitizer handy.
* Myth Buster: Despite what your mother said, being cold doesn’t give you a cold. Canadian researchers have reviewed hundreds of medical studies on the subject and found there’s no need to worry about moderate cold exposure— it has no detrimental effect on the human immune system.