coldThe darker nights are drawing in and the weather is becoming cool and damp. Before we know it we'll be reaching for our gloves and scarves and buttoning up against the elements. Autumn is a beautiful time of year, but it's also the season when many of us find ourselves fighting off coughs, colds, chills and infections. Did you know that there are over two hundred known cold viruses? With that in mind you may be wondering whether it is possible to keep yourself healthy at this time of year. The good news is that you can if you follow these ten simple tips.

Wash Your Hands

When a person coughs or sneezes, an estimated 40,000 droplets are spread in a 30 feet diameter. The drops will land on clothing, tables, door handles, handrails, keyboards and phones; on the back of the bus seat in front of you; or on money that is passed to a retailer. The virus lives in these microscopic droplets for up to three hours. In that time anyone can come into contact with the virus and they will spread the virus to everything they touch. The most common way to pick up the cold virus is through contact between your hands and face.

So how can you avoid catching the virus? Wash your hands thoroughly with soap for at least twenty seconds whenever you can. If you don't have access to soap and water, use hand gel. If the weather permits, wear your gloves.

Use Cutlery

When you are out and about, if you are going to be snacking or having a bite to eat, consider where your hands have been. Make sure you eat by using a knife and fork. If you are having a sandwich, wrap it in a paper serviette and don't let your hands come into contact with it.

Avoid Children!

The immune systems of the very young have not fully developed and they will pick up every bug and virus around. Before you know it you will be struck down too. The older you are the better. Older people have fewer colds because their body has dealt with many viruses in its lifetime and has built up plenty of immunity.

Boost your own immune system so that you are less likely to pick up colds and flu. You can boost your immune system by ensuring that you walk at least five times per week for 30 to 40 minutes. Accomplishing this will halve the chance of you catching a cold.

Wrap up warmly when you are out and about. The body needs time to acclimatise to changes in temperature so a sudden cold snap will affect the body quite severely. Shivering is a sure sign that you need to wear more layers because the immune system is depressed. Wear a hat because 30% of all body heat is lost through the head. Don't forget to wear your scarf too. According to research, viruses multiply in the cells that line the nose. If the nose is cold the virus will multiply much more quickly. Keep warm and wear a scarf that covers your mouth and nose while you are outside.

Banish stress. Stress will weaken your immune system so try to stay on an even keel. This is often easier said than done, but don't forget there are professionals out there who can help you. Read our post on 9 Simple Ways To Combat Stress and Anxiety.

Sleep. If you are lacking sleep you will find it harder to fight off infections. Set yourself a sleep pattern that you stick to during the week and at weekends. Go to bed at the same time every night and rise at the same time in the morning. If you have trouble sleeping, avoid alcohol and caffeine and anything that is too stimulating in the evening. Read our post on Ways To Avoid Insomnia for further information.

Take your vitamins. Many people swear by Vitamin C or Echinacea but the results of studies into the effects of these are inconclusive. It is thought that zinc is particularly good for boosting the immune system so make sure you have a healthy intake of meat, oysters, eggs, seafood or tofu.

Central heating. While you obviously need to stay warm during the winter, central heating can have an adverse effect on your respiratory system. It dries out the protective mucous of your nasal passages making it more likely that a virus will take hold there. Dry stuffy air will exacerbate sore throats and aggravate asthma. A humidifier can help.

Drink water.Stay hydrated by drinking water. This will wash out toxins from the body and assist your immune system in coping with bacteria and viruses.

Image credit: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

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