Here’s how to shield yourself from the all-conquering cold during the winter.
1. Don’t rub your eyes
Whether you think you are holding a winning lottery ticket or Mila Kunis has just strolled into your spinning class, whatever you do don’t rub your peepers. According to the NHS, a duct links the eyes and the nasal cavity, and any virus can easily transfer from your eyes to your nose and throat, causing an infection.
2. Keep it clean
Do we really need to say it? The single best way to beat off bugs is to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend you scrub your digits for around 20 seconds – as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. In your head, though, not out loud.
3. Get hot and steamy
At your gym, that is. Taking a sauna can halve your risk of picking up a nasty bug, according to an Austrian study: over a six-month period subjects taking a sauna twice a week experienced significantly fewer incidences of common cold symptoms compared with a control group who didn’t get hot under the collar.
4. Then have a cold shower
An ice-cold shower increases your blood’s level of white cells, whose main responsibility is to seek and destroy any nasty invaders. Research from the Thrombosis Research Institute in London says that this spike is caused by your body’s metabolic rate increasing in an attempt to warm you up.
5. Take D, not C
Don’t get us wrong, it’s great to have some vitamin C in your system mopping up damaging free radicals – but it won’t do anything to prevent or lessen the effects of a cold. Instead, load up on vitamin D, because a study published in the Archives Of Internal Medicine reported that people with a vitamin D deficiency are more vulnerable to colds. You get it from sunshine and it’s found in some fish, but it’s worth popping a pill to get a decent daily dose.
6. Outrun the bugs
There’s more to exercise than beating your 10K PB or getting a six-pack. Regularly working out will also keep your immune system firing on all fronts. A US study found that, over the course of three months, people who did little or no exercise fell ill almost twice as often as those who exercised five times a week.
7. Sleep soundly
As well as making you grumpy, getting less than seven hours of shut-eye a night makes you three times more likely to succumb to a cold than those getting eight hours or more, according to American research. If you spend just 8% of the time you are supposed to be sleeping awake, your risk of getting a cold increases fivefold.
8. Wrap up warm
Your mum lied – going outside with wet hair will not result in an instant cold. But being exposed to cold temperatures can reduce the effectiveness of your immune system. A study published in the International Journal Of Tuberculosis And Lung Disease concluded that any lowering of your core body temperature makes you more susceptible to infections.
9. Soup it up
If you’ve already succumbed to the lurgy, all is not lost. The NHS says that there is “evidence to suggest that there may be some truth in the belief that eating chicken soup helps to relieve the symptoms of a cold”. It’s thought to be because it contains immune-boosting protein, keeps you hydrated and has anti-inflammatory properties.
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