It’s January. The muffled sound of coughing, sneezing, and sniffling noses surrounds us. Infectious germs are everywhere from door handles to shopping carts to the stuffy air on your flight home. Unfortunately, for some of us it is too late and we have already been infected with the viruses that tend to lurk around this time of year. For those of us who remain flu-free, here are some ways to stay that way!


It has been said that up to 80% of all infections that we get come from inadequate hand washing. There’s a reason your parents, teachers, and doctors are all telling you to do the same thing!

We don’t often stop to think about all the places germs can be picked up. In any typical day, you probably come in contact with doorknobs, remote controls, sinks, pens, telephones, and computer keyboards. Each and every one of these things could be effective vehicles for sickness-causing germs. Less considered but just as likely carriers are shopping carts, ATM buttons, and the toys at your child’s daycare. Whether you’re in a school, at the office, on a plane, or at home, keep hand sanitizer in your purse and wash your hands as often as you can.

That means hot water, soap, and 20 seconds of suds. Think you can handle it?

Don’t Skimp on Sleep.

Surprise, surprise: depriving your body of one of its most basic needs has quite the negative effect. Besides the obvious decreases in concentration and productivity and increased chance of skipping your workout for an afternoon snooze, minimal sleep leads to a weakened immune system.

When things pile up at the office or when it gets crazy at home, it is easy to delay your bedtime. Try to plan your day so you can have a set “lights out” time. As difficult as it is, try to turn off your TV and computer and silence your cell phone. Yes, it sounds crazy, but this will lead to improved quality of sleep so you can wake in the morning feeling rested and ready for the day!

If you do happen to come down with a cold or the flu, keep in mind that the more sleep you get, the sooner your symptoms will heal. This is one instance where it is okay not to fight through it.

Keep Moving!

We know you’re already working out! No need to give up now (especially not now!!). Getting between 30-60 minutes of heart-pumping exercise may be just the thing to keep you going. This also helps to boost your immune system, not to mention you will just feel better. Simple as that. Again, if infection attacks, don’t try to be a hero. Sometimes it is better to stay in bed.

Should you skip your workout?

It’s a really good idea to listen to your body for the best answer to this question. However, here’s a simple way to decide:

If your symptoms are above your neck, it’s ok to work out. If your symptoms are below your neck, it’s better to rest.

Also, be cautious when you know you are contagious (first 3 days of a cold or first 3 days on antibiotics). You can still work out, but avoid sharing equipment and getting too close to others.

All those other little things.

You know, like keeping your hands away from your face, giving a nice wave instead of a handshake if you are feeling under the weather, staying away from cigarette smoke, and clean any surfaces you can with disinfectant wipes.

You’ll be thanking yourself later, promise! Here’s to staying healthy and happy in the new year!

“You’ll do what you think you want to do, or what you think you ought to do. If you’re very lucky, luckier than anybody I know, the two will coincide.”
–Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose