How to Avoid Getting Sick at the Start of the School Year

How to avoid getting sick and stay healthy during the school year!

Tips for staying healthy during the school year!

Fall! The most wonderful time of the year for jumping in leaf piles, eating crunchy apples and …. getting the flu?

Being back at school or university means that a whole lot of people, and a whole lot of germs are sharing space. That can lead to colds and flus, causing missed school days, work days, soccer practices and nights out. No fun! So, what can we do to reduce our risk of getting sick? Here are seven top tips to get you through the season and help stop germs in their tracks.

  1. Wash your hands: Mom was right! Washing your hands with warm soapy water is the best way to get them clean and prevent the spread of germs. Make sure you get both sides of your hands slathered in suds and wash between the fingers too. It is a good habit to teach little ones to sing a favourite song while the wash, to make sure they scrub up well. The good news is, we can use regular soap, as recent studies have shown that antibacterial soap is no more effective than regular soap at cleaning hands.
  1. Bring your own water bottle: It turns out that drinking fountains are often the most germ-laden spots in the school, with even more bacteria per square cm than toilet seats! Ewwwwwwwwwwww! Experts say it’s fine to refill your water bottle, just let the water run for a seconds before filling up. More and more schools and universities have fountains equipped to refill water bottles, so we can be germ-smart and environmentally friendly too!
  1. Keep it clean: Lunch sacs and backpacks can get pretty grungy. Wash lunch sacs once per week, and backpacks once per month to keep germs at bay.
  1. Build healthy habits: Fall is a great time to get back into healthy routines. Getting lots of sleep, regular exercise and eating meals are the cornerstones of building good immunity. Scientists are learning more about the gut microbiome, and the connection between our gut health and our general health. Eating a high fibre diet is the best way to feed and nurture your own healthy gut bacteria. And don’t miss the chance to play outside. Getting a bit dirty at the park or in the garden is a microbiome-booster.
  1. Wrap up: Fall days can be deceptive. It seems so sunny and warm, but the weather can change quickly, increasing our risk of catching a cold. It turns out that the colder it is, the more rapidly the virus that causes the common cold can replicate, and our immune response is slower too. The best advice is to dress in layers for changeable fall days.
  1. Sharing germs is not caring: As cool as your new shade may be, don’t share your lip-gloss with your friends. Or your water bottle. And if you are feeling sick, please stay home. Cold and flu viruses are not better when shared.
  1. Moderation is key: This one is for you university and college students. You may have started out the year with a big party, butas the year wears on, make sure you find some balance between those nights out and late study sessions with maybe a few yoga classes and early nights. You’ll get better grades, and get sick less often too.

It’s easy to avoid getting sick.  Just factor these easy steps into your day to help you stay healthy all year round!

Dr. Pamela Fergusson, RD

Pamela Fergusson is a Registered Dietician with a PhD in nutrition with a private practice in Toronto. She brings a love of nutrition, wellness and fitness to her blogging. She loves to cook and bake with her four children, teach them about food and nutrition through shopping for and preparing colourful, healthy family meals together. Pamela is also a runner and speed walker and has completed six half and full marathons.

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