10 Ways to Stay Healthy During the HolidaysPosted: December 3, 2012
Whether you’re at the mall, at a party, or on a train or plane, you can stop yourself from getting sick and out of shape. Learn the easy ways to stay well all season long.
By Norine Dworkin-McDaniel, Originally Posted on Health.com.
Beat germs, stay well
The holidays are one time of the year when you really want to feel your best. But they’re also a minefield of health woes, from cold and flu bugs to party hangovers.
Beyond getting the flu vaccine, there’s a lot you can do to help your body weather the season. This is how to keep healthy—and merry—as you shop, travel, and celebrate.
Wipe away germs
Before you settle in for the flight (or train or bus ride), run disinfecting wipes over the armrests, the tray table and latch, the air vent, and your seatbelt buckle, and let air-dry. “Clean anything you might touch so you don’t pick up germs that those who sat there before you left behind,” says Amy Nichols, RN, director of infection control at University of California San Francisco Medical Center.
Indeed, studies done at the University of Arizona in Tucson have turned up flu virus—and even the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA—on airline tray tables. “From what we can tell from our results, no one ever disinfects those things,” adds environmental microbiologist Charles Gerba, PhD.
Low humidity at high altitudes makes plane cabin air dry—and our airways more vulnerable to viruses and bacteria, says Marc Leavey, MD, primary care physician at Lutherville Personal Physicians in Lutherville, Maryland.
Staying well-hydrated keeps those mucous membranes moist so they can better keep bugs out of our systems. Down 8 ounces of water for every hour you’re in the air. Yes, that probably means using the plane’s germy lavatory (take your wipes!), but colds and flu are such monsters that you’re better off drinking than going dry.
Cruise the aisle
Once that “fasten your seatbelt” sign goes off, be sure to get up and move around to prevent deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), the formation of blood clots in your legs that can result from sitting immobile for long periods. (DVT can be life-threatening if a clot breaks off and travels to the lungs.)
To avoid it, move around the cabin every 60 to 90 minutes. And if you tend to get clots, talk with your doctor about support hose.
Watch your hands
Pack an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in your purse, and use it regularly. “The germs on your hands are the single biggest threat to your health, any time of year,” Dr. Leavey says.
That’s because cold viruses tend to spread more from hand-to-mouth contact than through airborne droplets, making mall doors, escalator rails, elevator buttons, and ATM touch screens virus central.
Stop for a rubdown
Try a chair at the massage kiosk or salon: In a study at Cedars–Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, a single Swedish massage session lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol and boosted several types of white blood cells, which protect the body against germs.
Only have 10 minutes to spare? Says study leader Mark Rapaport, MD: “I suspect some massage is better than none.”