Avoiding that winter chill

By on November 4, 2008

It is that time of the year again. Temperatures are dropping, frost settles the ground, breaths of air are visible, and a warm beverage seems all the more desirable. Winter’s official arrival is more than a month away, but in the recent weeks it has shown its impending arrival.

As Quinnipiac University prepares for the long Connecticut winter, many health services are offered that help students safely make the transition of seasons.

While many female Quinnipiac students will say they deal with the cold by adorning their Ugg boots and North Face jackets, there are other ways to stay immune to the temperature.

The University has provided two free flu clinics to all students. Getting a flu shot will decrease the chances of becoming sick this winter with fever, fatigue, and chills, by up to 90 percent. At no cost to students, it is really to their best benefit to get one.

As painful as a walk to the gym in the brisk weather might sound, experts say that moderate exercise helps generate endorphins.

“These feel-good chemicals strengthen your immune system by increasing the production of ‘natural killer cells,’ white blood cells that destroy viruses. Focus less on the type of workout and more on your level of exertion,” Brian McFarlin, Ph.D. said. McFarlin is an assistant professor of exercise physiology and nutrition at the University of Houston.

It is a known fact that getting a full night’s rest will help stave off illness, but this is especially true during the winter. Going to classes with at least eight hours of sleep the night before will not only help students stay more focused and alert, but down the road could keep them from catching their roommates’ cough.

Lather, rinse, and repeat. During the winter months we are more apt to stay inside. This indoor interaction leads to increased human contact and increased spreading of germs.

As far as supplements go, students who take regular ones should continue throughout the winter. Andrew Weil, M.D., an integrative-medicine expert and author of “Healthy Aging” also suggests taking astragalus, a plant root used in China for centuries, and known as the best preventive herb. Two 500-milligram pills a day during the winter should be sufficient he said.

As far as diets go, be more attentive to them. The winter is filled with holiday festivities and parties. It is at these parties where decadent dishes and cocktails are served–which equal countless calories if not consumed in moderation. Never go to a party hungry, and while it is human nature to eat more when it is cold, always practice moderation.

Dealing with foods, the four that help you fight the most germs are garlic, mushrooms, red bell peppers and Brazilian nuts. Adding any of the four to a dish can be beneficial to your health in more ways than one.

The winter months can become monotonous and dreary if you let them. Get into a healthy routine now to prepare, and ease through the frigid weather quite contently. Surround yourself with good family, friends and food — and an extra bottle of hand sanitizer this winter.

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About Mary-Catherine Dolan