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Tips for Staying Healthy this School Year

Want to avoid getting sick this year? Here are some helpful tips to stay healthy. 

 

Wash your hands.  Hand washing is one of the most effective methods of preventing many infectious illnesses.  Our hands touch many, many surfaces that are also touched by others, and the simple act of handwashing can stop the spread of disease.  (Just ask Florence Nightengale.)  You should wash your hands frequently, but especially after coughing, sneezing, using the restroom, and before and after eating.  The trick here is to be thorough.  After lathering up with soap, make sure to scrub your palms, the backs of your hands, between your fingers, , and under your nails for at least 30 seconds.  (About as long as it takes to sing the Alphabet song in your head, or Happy Birthday twice.)  No soap and water available?  Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can also provide quick protection.  Studies have shown viruses can survive on human hands for several hours, and be spread through direct contact. 

Stay hydrated.  It’s recommended you get a full half gallon of water daily (64 oz), but this number may increase with physical activity.  Dehydration can lead to headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue, constipation, and in severe cases dizziness, rapid heart rate, and fainting, among others.  Check with your doctor if you are getting more than a full gallon of fluids daily (128 oz), or if you have heart or renal conditions, as your daily intake needs may differ.  And remember, when hydrating – less sugar, more water!

Get enough sleep.  Chronic sleep deprivation has many effects on health, including increasing your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and illness.  Sleep deprivation in children often exhibits as behavior and mood problems, lack of concentration, and an impaired memory and ability to learn.  Adults need 8 hours of restorative (good) sleep each night. Children need 8-10 hours of restorative sleep per night. 

Move more, sit less.  At least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise is the ideal (that’s just over 20 minutes a day), but experts agree that any movement is better than none.  Get up at least every hour to move around and stretch.  Go for a walk.  Get moving every day to help improve your mood, boost energy, control weight, and help prevent or manage chronic health disorders.  Exercise even helps improve cognitive function. 

Eat more vegetables.  And fruits.  Half of what’s on your plate at any meal should be vegetables or fruit, but you have to get both/mix it up.  All fruits and vegetables are healthy, but they do not all have the same nutrients, and most fruits have high natural sugar content.  To get the most out of the produce on your plate, make sure you get a range of different-colored foods throughout the day.

Tame your stress.  Everyone has stress, it’s how you manage that stress that’s important.  Find a way to help yourself handle your stress, especially if you are having difficulty controlling your temper, you feel sick to your stomach when nervous, or you’re having trouble sleeping due to anxiety.  Everyone is different, every stressor is different, so find a way to help yourself manage your personal stress in a way that works for you – yoga, meditation, spending quality time with friends and family, walking your dog or petting your cat – whatever helps you relax and recharge.  If you’ve tried and still can’t manage or reduce your stress, consider making an appointment with a counselor or other mental health professional.  (Because mental health is health.) 

Stay away from smoke – cigarettes, vaping, e-cigarettes – all smoke.  Smoking is harmful to almost every organ in your body, not just your lungs, and secondhand smoke is dangerous, too.  There is no amount that’s considered “safe.”  If you live with a smoker, support them in their efforts to quit, or at least ask them to smoke outside. 

Adults – limit your amount of alcohol intake.  Women are recommended to have no more than one alcoholic drink per day, and men should not consume more than two per day. 

Take any prescribed medications – and use them correctly.  According to the CDC, non-adherence to prescribed medications leads to 125,000 deaths annually.  Take your meds, take them on time, and talk to your doctor immediately if you’re noticing any side effects from your medications, or if you are having trouble remembering to take them. 

Check in with your doctor – at least once a year, and any time you are experiencing unusual symptoms or have any other health concerns. 

 

Want more info?  Start here!  https://www.webmd.com/balance/healthy-habits-19/slideshow-checklist-stay-healthy

And remember, any time you’re researching on the internet, look for “.org” or “.gov” sites, as there is less risk of commercial bias in their articles. WebMD.com does seem to be a rare exception, but always follow-up with your physician on any health-related issues or concerns.