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How To Maintain Your Health and Prevent Colds and the Flu

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Updated October 13, 2012

Make every Monday the day you recommit to living your healthiest life. Sign up for our free Healthy Monday newsletter full of tips on reducing stress, eating right, getting into an exercise routine, and more.
About.com is a proud participant of Healthy Monday, a project of Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Are you tired of being sick all the time? If you wish that you could somehow prevent the colds you keep getting, check out these tips on how to stay healthy. They won't prevent illness 100 percent of the time, but they will help.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: Varies Depending on Your Lifestyle

Here's How:

  1. Wash your hands For at least 20 seconds, with warm water and soap.
    If you can't wash your hands with soap and water, using an alcohol-based handrub will also kill germs if your hands are not visibly soiled.

  2. Take a daily multivitamin -- if you need one.
  3. Exercise regularly, at least 30 minutes a day.
  4. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and limit your saturated fats.
  5. Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day (that's 8 - 8oz glasses).
  6. Avoid people with a cold or the flu, especially when they have a fever.
  7. Quit smoking.

Tips:

  1. If you do nothing else, be sure to wash your hands frequently. This is the single most important step to preventing the spread of disease and staying healthy.

  2. Eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise and taking a daily multivitamin boosts your immune system so you will be less likely to get sick.

    Vitamins can't replace the nutrients we get from a well-balanced diet. Unless you are in certain categories of people that need a daily multivitamin, it won't do much for your overall health.

  3. Drinking plenty of water will keep you well hydrated. Proper hydration is essential to a strong immune system and will help you feel better as well.

  4. Stay away from sick people who have a fever; this is when they are most contagious.

  5. Quitting smoking has been proven to improve your overall health and immunity within just a few weeks and the benefits only get better over time. So, now is the time to quit.

    Sources:

    Exercise and Immunity. Medline Plus Medical Encyclopedia 24 May 2006. National Institutes of Health. 02 Jun 2007.

    "Vitamins: Help or Hindrance to Good Health?" Cleveland Clinic Health Information Center. Health Extra Newsletter. 03 Jun 2007.

    "Smoking and Influenza." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 18 Sep 2006. Department of Health and Human Services. 03 Jun 2007.

What You Need

  • Warm water and soap
  • Complete daily multivitamin
  • Instant Hand Sanitizer
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