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Tips for a Healthy Winter

By Andrea Achenbach, MSN, ARNP, FNP-C, and Emily Griffin, FNP-C, ARNP | Sycamore Health Center | 11/17/2014

It’s not technically winter yet, but it is sure starting to feel like it. As the temperature begins to drop and the snow flurries fly, there are steps you can take to maintain good health, even in the harsh Iowa winter. 

  1. Wash Your Hands. Good hand washing is the #1 way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Scrub your hands for at least 15 seconds using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.
  2. Get a Flu Vaccination. The Center for Disease Control recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone six months of age and older. Flu activity begins to increase in October and peaks between January and March. It is best to get vaccinated in the fall.

For more information on the flu vaccine, go to

  1. Eat Right. Eat balanced meals including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy products. You may also want to include foods that will boost your immune system, including garlic, ginger, vitamin C and tea.
  2. Physical Activity. To fight off sickness, your body needs energy and strength. Physical activities boost the immune system and can reduce stress. 
  3. Get Plenty of Rest. Your body also needs a good night sleep to have the energy your immune system needs to fight off viruses.
  4. Clean Your Bathroom. With exposed toothbrushes, communal hand towels and unbridled nose-blowing, bathrooms are a breeding ground for cold and flu viruses.
  5. Drink Water.  Keep hydrated with at least eight cups of fluids a day. The best option is water but you can include other good choices like 100 percent fruit juice, teas and milk.
  6. Clear the Air. Cigarette smoke, both inhaled and secondhand, compromises the immune system. 
  7. Travel Safely. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let someone else drink and drive. Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt according to his/her height, weight and age. Make sure you have an emergency bag in your vehicle that has blankets, non-perishable snacks and a flash light. Finally, ensure a family member or close friend is aware of your travel route in the event you would become stranded.

For more information on disease and healthy living the Center for Disease Control has a great user friendly website:

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A faculty practice unit under College of Nursing Health Care, the Sycamore Health Center is a primary care and mental health services clinic operated entirely by nurse practitioners. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 319-337-9066, email or visit

Posted On: 
Nov 17th, 2014