Getty ImagesSwine flu news is everywhere, and by now you've read all the precautionary measures: Load up on hand sanitizer, avoid crowds, stay away from your hacking coworker, cancel your trip to Cancun. You don't need to hear it again from me, but what I can tell you is that Prevention has an amazing team of medical pros and editors who dig up the latest research-all year long, swine flu or no flu-on staying healthy and keeping your immune system strong. So instead of stressing out, a well-documented immune system disruptor, take a deep breath and follow my favorite, easy tips:
From Andrew Weil, MD, director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the College of Medicine, University of Arizona:
1) Sing while you scrub: This means washing your hands with soap and warm water for a full 15 to 20 seconds-about as long as it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice.
2) Keep your fork to yourself. Don't share drinking glasses or utensils with friends or family members, and avoid close contact with anyone who is ill.
3) Don't reuse dirty tissues. Other than it being, well, gross, it's also a way to spread infection. Viruses can live in them for hours.
From Richard Davidson, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin:
4) Take a stroll around your bedroomMindful meditation eases anxiety by 44% and reduces symptoms of depression by 34% while simultaneously jacking up immunity. An easy way to do it is to pick a quiet place, such as your bedroom or living room, and walk slowly back and forth or in circles for about 10 minutes. Looking straight ahead, focus on one aspect of walking. For example, notice how one foot makes contact with the ground; your weight shifts; and the other foot lifts, moves forward, and finally makes contact. Continue to direct your attention toward your feet, and whenever your mind wanders, gently bring it back.
Try these 2-minute yoga meditation routines in your bedroom.
From researchers at Carnegie Mellon University:
5) Sleep an extra hour
Sleeping 8 hours per night (instead of 7 or fewer) can make you about 30% less likely to develop a cold. And participants in this study who reported difficulty falling asleep or not feeling rested the next morning also had decreased immunity. So stop reading, browsing, or listening to news about swine flu (remember what I said about stress?) and hit the hay an hour earlier. You'll look better too.
From research at the University of Washington:
6) Make a date with your gym
Moderate exercise doesn't just rev your metabolism-it also boosts your immune system by about 33%. If the weather in your town is as warm as it's been in mine, you're probably already all on this, but aim for 45 minutes 4 or 5 times a week. You'll stay healthy and shed layers without body image angst.
From a study at Utah State University:
7) Eat more orange stuff
And I don't mean cheese curls. Orange-hued foods contain vitamin A, a nutrient that powers your eyesight; keeps your skin, gums, and teeth healthy; and, most importantly, boosts your immune system to help you fight off viruses. Most women fall short in their daily diets by about 20%, so make it up by adding these orange all-stars to a few meals: 1 small sweet potato, some canned pumpkin (mix into pancake batter-it's a great, delicious twist), some cantaloupe cubes, or a few dried apricots.
More healthy living tips from Prevention:
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