Here are some unexpected ideas from Jerilyn Covert, a health writer for many years for a number of publications.
- Wash your hands a lot. Scrub your hands together—including the back of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails—for at least 20 seconds. It’s a proven way to help prevent illness and the spread of infection. One suggestion is to sing "Happy Birthday" twice -- that's about the right amount of time.
- Spread the hand sanitizer around. In a 2014 study, researchers contaminated the hands of one adult in each of seven different households with a virus. They then placed an alcohol-based hand sanitizer around the house—kitchen, bathrooms, nurseries—and instructed family members to use it one to three times throughout the day. After eight hours, using hand sanitizer resulted in 99 percent fewer viruses on their hands, compared with those who didn’t use hand sanitizer. There were also fewer viruses on counters, faucets, light switches, and other surfaces.
- Get some fresh air. Staying cooped up indoors increases your exposure to germs. Plus, getting outside helps boost physical activity and social interaction, which are both good for your immune system. Exercise can reduce your risk of an upper respiratory infection. When researchers tracked 1,000 adults during the winter months, they found those who exercised at least five days per week were 43 percent less likely to get sick, compared with people who exercised one day or less.
She has some other good ideas, such as wiping down your TV remote, using separate hand towels and taking the stairs -- every thought about how many people press those elevator buttons? And which one do you think gets pressed most often?