Stuffed up and sorry for yourself? Not this year. The average person gets socked with the common cold two to three times in 12 months — but who's to say you have to be average? Adopt the strategies below and you may be able to sidestep the misery altogether. And if, despite your best efforts, you get that tickle in your throat, that hot, achy feeling, or a full-blown cold, click here for advice that'll flatten your symptoms fast… but first, how not to catch what's going around:
Keep Up Your Workouts
Research suggests that people who exercise at least five times a week get colds less often than those who have an on-again, off-again relationship with activity. Moderate workouts may give your immune system a boost, and it's possible that these regular upticks could help keep colds away.
Try This Water Trick
Gargle with tap water for a minute or so. Researchers in Japan found that people who did this three times a day or more caught fewer colds — and if they did come down with something, some symptoms were milder than in those who didn't gargle. No harm in putting salt in the water if that's what you prefer, but you don't have to.
Take a Breather
When people kept up a daily practice of mindfulness meditation — they set aside time to pay attention to what was happening in the moment without judging it — they took 76 percent fewer sick days due to colds, according to research in the Annals of Family Medicine. Could be because meditation helps lower stress, which may allow your immune system to respond better to any invaders.
We know you know that hand washing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick. So why aren't you doing it? According to one study, only 65 percent of women (and, no kidding, 31 percent of men) wash their hands after using a public restroom. To help skirt colds, you need to scrub up then and plenty of other times, like before eating and when you're near coughers and sneezers.
Head to Bed
It's no secret that sleep is important, and research offers yet another reason to turn the lights out early: People who got less than seven hours of rest a night were four times as likely to develop a cold than folks who got eight or more hours.
This story originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Dr. Oz The Good Life.