Top Four Ways to Stay Healthy this Flu and Coronavirus Season
by Maxwell Alexander, Certified Fitness Trainer
Every year, between 9 and 45 million people get the flu. This nasty virus is one of the biggest causes of distress worldwide since its symptoms can range from a mild case of sweating to a high fever and uncontrollable shaking. This flu season has another surprise – coronavirus that has already spread all over the globe with first cases here in New York and the Hudson Valley. As an airborne virus, the flu and coronavirus transmit from person to person very effectively. Transmission is especially high during flu season – colder winter months where people spend more time indoors and close to each other, promoting the spread of the virus. At the moment CDC is responding to an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in almost 70 locations internationally, including in the United States. The virus has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”).
As flu season approaches, it’s important to stay healthy and vigilant to stop the flu and coronavirus from spreading to you. There are many ways to avoid or prevent the flu, but by far the most effective method is to get a flu shot. While the flu shot doesn’t always work due to the genomics of the influenza virus, more often than not it provides an effective set of immune system cues to keep your body safe. According to the CDC, there isn’t a vaccine for the novel coronavirus created yet, therefore we all must take precautionary measures in order to prepare for the flu and coronavirus pandemic. Assuming you have already gotten your flu shot or you aren’t able to get one in time, you’ll find four other ways to stay healthy during this year’s flu season.
1. Increase Fruit and Vegetable Consumption
The influenza virus and the novel coronavirus wreaks havoc on a healthy person’s body but does significantly more damage to those with weakened immune systems. Diets filled with synthetic sugars and an overabundance of fat can lead to immune system depression and stress on your body over time, which further weakens your immune system.
One way to boost your immune system back to relatively normal functionality is through dietary changes. Research has found that shifting your diet to include more fruits and vegetables daily can increase the numbers of circulating antibodies in your body, which in turn may lead to a decreased chance for flu infection. So avoid processed food and sugary drinks at all costs and switch to a healthy and delicious diet full of vegetables and a good amount of protein.
2. Keep Your Hands Clean and Carry a Natural Hand Sanitizer With You
A surprising number of people don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom or touching potentially contaminated surfaces. Unfortunately, these surfaces are one of the hotspots for viral spread. One study found that a single doorknob touched by someone with a virus could spread that virus to nearly 50% of the working population in a building. But if that infected individual had washed his or her hands before touching the doorknob, that infection rate would be significantly reduced.
Washing your hands for at least 2 minutes (and ideally 3 minutes) is the best way to ensure that you don’t accidentally transmit a virus to yourself and to others.
If you touch a surface, try not to touch your eyes or mouth without washing your hands first, as these two areas are the easiest for pathogens to enter your body. Finally, if you are close to a person who may have the flu or has reported symptoms in the past 24 hours, make sure you avoid close contact and wash your hands regularly while in that person’s presence.
Hand washing is the easiest way to prevent the spread of germs that can cause illness. When soap and water are not available I always recommend my clients carry a Natural Rinse-Free Hand Sanitizer anywhere they go, especially at the gym. DA Aromatherapy Collection has an awesome option – Energizing Hand Sanitizer with Organic Eucalyptus and Peppermint Essential Oils. It is alcohol-based, so it’s proven to kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria and eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils are known for their antibacterial and anti-viral properties.
3. Enforcing Sick Leave
Unfortunately, many workers feel obligated to come to work, even when they feel sick, to keep their pay. However, multiple studies have indicated that forcing workers to come in when they’re sick actually reduces profits for companies, as a single sick individual can spread that illness to multiple others. If you want to avoid the flu in your workplace, make sure you do everything you can to enforce sick leave. The influenza virus is transmissible for up to 24 hours after the first symptoms appear. The high transmission rate means that a person should stay home at least one full day or more when they report symptoms so they don’t give others the flu. If you’re the boss, make sure sick leave happens regularly – and if you aren’t the boss, show your boss the statistics that they will lose money if they require sick employees to continue working.
4. Working Out Outdoors
In order to reduce your chances of contracting flu or coronavirus, CDC recommends avoiding crowded, closed-off areas with poor ventilation, so think about the flu season as an opportunity to workout outdoors instead of going to the gym! Working out outdoors has double benefits for your immune system with an abundance of fresh non-contaminated air and psychological benefits. Take your workout to a park or the back yard, or just run around the block and get some of that fresh and healthy air. You can also sign up for my online training and workout at home, I’ve got the best home workout program powered by state-of-the-art mobile app, so you won’t even have to go to the gym until the flu season passes by.
Avoiding the flu is difficult, especially during flu season. But if you can maintain a healthy diet, your immune system will be far more resilient to incoming pathogens than otherwise. Keeping an eye out for potentially sick coworkers or friends can also alert you to incoming infections, and you can enforce healthy hygiene habits to make sure those don’t become your problem. With these tips and with an early flu shot, you’ll likely stay healthy through this year’s flu season.