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Simple steps to staying healthy in the fall and winter

Close up portrait of attractive pretty woman  siting on couch inAre you looking for ways to boost your immune system and protect yourself from getting sick with a cold, the flu or COVID-19? Staying healthy doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some simple —yet highly effective — ways to help you stay healthier during the fall and winter months:

Participate in activities you enjoy. Research has shown that stress weakens the immune system. That’s why making time to relax and unwind is so important. Listening to music, reading a book, listening to an audiobook, sipping a cup of tea, enjoying a hobby or catching up with a friend or two all can help you better manage the stresses of day-to-day life. Self-care is vital. Studies show a direct link between lower stress levels and better health and overall wellness. Try to carve out a bit of time each day to do something you enjoy.

Stay hydrated. Many of us go through our day dehydrated. Yet your body and mind works so much better when you drink enough water. How much is enough? Check out this guide for how much water you should try to drink each day. Combined with a healthy diet, staying hydrated can help you feel significantly better.

Get exercise. Research shows that exercising can prevent sickness by providing a boost to the immune system. Even small amounts of moderate exercise — such as walking — can help ward off colds and the flu. Exercise outside and you also can get some Vitamin D, which has been shown in studies to boost your immune system.

Get enough sleep. Many people don’t get enough sleep. Yet adequate sleep can actually help your body fight against common sicknesses. Creating a wind-down ritual, avoiding screen time an hour before bedtime and talking with your physician about any difficulty falling or staying asleep can help you get a better night’s rest.

Get a new toothbrush. When was the last time you replaced your toothbrush? It’s always a good idea to replace your toothbrush regularly, especially after you’ve been sick.

Ask about vaccines. Talk with your physician about whether you should get a flu shot, pneumonia shot/booster and/or a COVID-19 shot/booster and when.

Wash your hands. You’ve heard this many times, but it bears repeating: hand washing is critical. Aim for a 20-second hand wash as often as possible and always before eating and touching your face, and after touching a contaminated surface and using the restroom. Use hand sanitizer after touching any public things or places, such as pens, doorknobs, handrails or elevator buttons. Most people don’t wash their hands long enough ( for the recommended 20 seconds) or thoroughly enough. Here’s how and when to wash your hands.

Protect yourself when you’re out in public. Since colds, the flu and COVID-19 are all spread by respiratory droplets, wearing a mask when you’re out in public can help. Also, avoid touching your face as often, especially when you’re in public places. Studies have found that people touch their faces more than 16 times an hour! Touching your face with hands that have germs and/or viruses on them can result in getting sick.