Staying Healthy During Back To School Season

It’s always a good idea to take care of your health. But in the first couple months of the school year it’s even more important, even if you aren’t going to a school. The first few weeks of school are when students and teachers are suddenly shut in the same buildings as people they aren’t used to being shut in a building with. It’s like immunity roulette. Some of them might be really good at fighting off one thing because they’d been exposed to it more but not as good fighting another they aren’t exposed to as much. Now all the people with different levels of immunity to different things are together, some of them bringing with them the things they are good at fighting. Not the ones who aren’t good at fighting it are getting exposed to it. It’s a time when most students and teachers get sick.

Now if you’re saying to yourself, “but I don’t go to school anymore,” I’ll explain why you still need to be attentive. When the students and teachers get out of school for the day they go places. They go to stores and parks and other public places. And they bring all the germs they normally would with them. But now they’re bringing germs with them which their body isn’t used to fighting off. So the things their body isn’t used to are thriving on them and you, being in the same place, are being exposed to more than usual.

But the good thing is, though this happens every year, it doesn’t last too long and everyone ends up with a better immune system in the end. After years of working with marching bands, and with my wife being a teacher, I’ve gotten pretty good at not getting sick, or at least getting too sick. And since I know it’s going to happen every year I can take a preventative approach to it with these things.

Vitamin Supplements

In addition to my normal every day vitamins I usually try to add some more during the fall in and winter to make sure I am not getting sick.

Vitamin C helps your body’s immune system.  Although it doesn’t necessarily prevent colds, it can make them shorter and not as severe when you do get them. If you decide you want to take Vitamin C supplements, make sure you check to see what the recommended daily amounts are for your age group. Take into account any natural sources when you plan how much to supplement. Vitamin C can be obtained from citrus fruit and their juices, green peppers, kiwi, broccoli, cantaloupe, and tomatoes. Cooking foods may lessen the amount of Vitamin C in them which is why I have listed ones which can be eaten raw.

Vitamin D helps keep your bones strong. The reason it’s important to get more of this now is because the days are getting shorter. People are also spending more time inside. Your body creates Vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun so less sun exposure means less production of Vitamin D. Exposure to sunlight through a window does not cause Vitamin D to be created. It must be direct sunlight. Just like with Vitamin C, if you decide you want to take Vitamin D supplements, make sure you check to see what the recommended daily amounts are for your age group. Again, take into account any natural sources when you plan how much to supplement. Vitamin D can be obtained from salmon, tuna, beef liver, egg yolks, and mushrooms. If you want to use milk as a source of Vitamin D to get strong bones, just be aware that naturally there are low levels present, so you want to get milk which has been fortified with Vitamin D to get the benefits.

Layers

With the days getting cooler it is becoming more important to dress appropriately for the weather. As it gets colder you want to start wearing layers.

Your base layer of clothing is there to wick perspiration away from you so it doesn’t make you cold. Wool is a great option for a natural fabric that wicks wetness away. Just make sure whatever you wear for your base layer has a snug fit because it can’t wick anything it can’t touch.

The middle layer is your insulating layer, which will keep your body heat near you. Heavyweight fleece is a good option for this layer but a puffy jacket with a synthetic filler will be your best option. Remember to get some insulation for your legs as well.

The first two layers keep your body heat in and the outer layer is there to keep the elements out. You’ll want a jacket and pants that are waterproof so if there is any rain, sleet, or snow you don’t get soaked and undo all the work of the inner layers. Waterproof jackets and pants also have the added benefit of being windproof. Just make sure whatever you choose for your outer layer is also designed to be breathable, so the moisture being removed by the first layer can get out.

Some other things you’ll want are a hat, gloves, and boots with thick socks. If you don’t need to us your fingers much I’d suggest wearing mittens so your fingers are able to share heat. Also make sure your ears are covered. I consider that to be the most important thing for me when I go outside. I’ll sometimes wear two hats and a scarf just to make sure my ears will always be covered no matter what I am doing outside.

Bathe

It’s always important to bathe regularly. I feel like that should be all I need to say. But I’ll add that with all the added extra germs going around it’s important to get it off your body. Always wash your hands with soap and water. Hand sanitizer is not a substitute and honestly I think it’s gross when people think it is. It might kill germs but it doesn’t get anything off your hands.

Sleep

The last and possibly most important thing is to make sure you are getting the correct amount of sleep. If your body is tired it will not fight off sickness as well. This is important all year round but when your immune system is working overtime in the fall and winter you need to make sure your body is resting to give it as much energy as possible.

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