Kick the cold
Ever wonder why you always seem to come down with a life-interrupting virus this time of year, while other women you know sail through the season sniffle-, cough-, and ache-free?
We canvassed the research and talked to top experts to uncover these key, study-backed secrets for staying well, even when you’re surrounded by germs. The docs’ number one tip: Get the flu vaccine, ASAP. Then, follow these simple steps to boost your virus protection even more.
Make friends with fresh air
Common wisdom has it that staying indoors, where it’s warm and toasty, is easier on your immune system than being outside in the cold. Problem is, being inside puts you in close constant contact with other people—and their germs.
Not only does escaping into the fresh air give you a break from all those germs circulating inside, but going for a stroll can actually boost your immunity. “Exercise leads to an increase in natural killer cells, neutrophils, and monocytes, which ultimately increases immune function,” says Ather Ali, ND, MPH, assistant director of Complementary/Alternative Medicine Research at the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center.
Relaxation fights off colds
There are a trillion reasons why taking time to chill out might be the last item on your to-do list. But here’s why it should be a priority: “Being stressed will increase your susceptibility to catching a cold,” says Ali. That may be because, over the long term, it leads to the ongoing release of stress hormones, such as glucocorticoids.
These impede your body’s ability to produce cell-signaling molecules called cytokines, which trigger a disease-fighting response from your immune system. “You’re also less likely to take care of yourself—get ample sleep, eat right, exercise—when you’re stressed,” says Ali, which is crucial to upping your immunity.