Preparing for success starts with good health. Fall and winter can pose significant problems to students and faculty when flu pervades the campus — reducing focus, damaging health, and even disrupting the flow of learning. The number one way to fight back against the threat of cold and flu is to practice prevention techniques. Taking a proactive approach to warding off illness and avoiding infection should help ensure that students remain healthy and reduce their chances of spreading illness to other Cadets.
Following are some tips for how students can stay healthy as flu season arrives.
1. Consider Immunization
Perhaps the number one way to prevent infection is to ensure all students receive flu immunizations to help protect them throughout the season. Flu shots are offered through the Health Center, so make sure your Cadet has made an appointment to get his immunization. By receiving an appropriate immunization to protect against seasonal flu, a Cadet not only improves his chances of staying healthy, but also reduces the risk to other Cadets.
2. Practice Good Hygiene
Regardless of what the circumstances may be, the first step in avoiding infection is to remove germs. Speak to any health expert about preventing the symptoms of flu from spreading, and they’ll preach the importance of thoroughly washing hands. The reason for this is that flu and cold viruses cannot spread without touch — they aren’t airborne, and it’s impossible to catch a cold by standing in the same room as someone who is sick. Good hand washing can be the key to reducing the spread of viruses, and Cadets should practice good hygiene at all times by washing their hands with hot water and soap.
Remember, while proper hand washing is essential, it is also crucial to make sure that surfaces remain clean. Flu viruses can live for eight hours on most surfaces, so students should regularly clean their sleeping areas and practice good sanitation wherever they go.
3. Practice Social Distancing and Cough Etiquette
Flu germs can spread as far as six feet through a simple sneeze or cough, so Cadets should always cover their mouths and noses with tissues when they are sick. Even when using a tissue, teenagers should wash their hands after coughing or sneezing. What’s more, if Cadets are showing symptoms of illness, they should stay at a distance from other young men whenever possible. This may mean avoiding close-contact sports and after-school activities for a short period of time.
4. Exercise Frequently
Young men who engage in regular exercise are less likely to suffer from a cold or viral illness according to various studies. One study found that staying active may reduce the risk of contracting a cold by up to 50%, while reducing the severity of symptoms in those who do fall ill by up to 31%. Exercise improves the way immune cells circulate around the blood stream, helping them to neutralize dangerous pathogens and defend against viruses. Cadets should engage in regular aerobic exercise to help speed the heart and pump larger quantities of blood.
5. Remember to Rest
Of course, just because exercise is important doesn’t mean that Cadets should neglect their body by failing to rest. There has been significant evidence to show that proper rest can increase interleukins (the immune system leaders in fighting flu and cold) throughout the bloodstream. Though it can be difficult to determine exactly how much rest and sleep is necessary, most scientists agree that proper rest is essential to immune function, leading to increased numbers of white blood cells (which fight against infection) and more antibodies.
6. Stock Up On Healthy Fuel
Finally, a crucial step in fighting back against disease is to ensure that your body retains the resources it needs to function properly. Good foods for Cadets to enjoy during the winter and fall months include those which are high in protein, antioxidants, minerals, and essential vitamins. Students should eat at least five servings of fruits or vegetables a day to help keep their immune systems strong. At the same time, it is crucial to stay hydrated, as water can help the body to perform at its best – even when fighting against infection.
Act Fast To Stop Illness
Warding off colds and flu means acting fast. According to scientists from the University of Arizona, it can take as little as four hours for germs to spread between surfaces when a single sick person enters a confined space. What’s more, the fact that 2014-2015 marked one of the worst flu seasons on record, has prompted many individuals to be increasingly robust in their search for flu solutions.