tissue

Sickness can be difficult to avoid for college students if they are not observing proper precautions. (flickr/NIAID)

With sickness pervading campus, catching a cold can seem inevitable. Many students interact with friends or colleagues who have already caught the flu. Small places such as dorms and small flats, often thronged with people, can facilitate the spread of sickness. As a result, you may feel healthy one day but a mess the next.

However, sickness is not inevitable. Daily habits, ranging from exercise to nutrition to stress management can help ward off sickness. If you hope to stave off that likely cold, you should exercise frequently, include more fruits and fish in your diet and reduce your stress. 

Sufficient exercise can stop a sickness in its tracks. A study by the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that aerobic exercise can at least ward off a cold. The study recorded the Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI) of 1002 participants for 12 weeks. Subjects were split into those who exercise five days or greater weekly and those who exercise a day per week or fewer. The results found that active participants were sick for only five days within the 12 weeks, while the inactive were sick for nearly nine days. 

Experts found that more exercise strengthened the immune systems of the participants. Although this four day difference may seem negligible, it means fewer sick days overall, and you ought to exercise either way. The National Health Service urges those aged 19 to 64 to work out daily, consisting of both aerobic and strength exercises to stay healthy. 

It would be a travesty if food went undiscussed on sickness.

Although they should not be the only measures taken to combating sickness, eating fruits, vegetables and fish can reduce the likelihood of sickness. Carrots and sweet potatoes, for instance, are flush with beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A when consumed. Vitamin A is crucial in bolstering the immune system. Similarly, apples can protect the immune system. According to a University of Illinois study, the soluble fiber found in apples and nuts can strengthen the immune system. Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, can control inflammation, thus bolstering the immune system. 

In addition to a robust diet and ample exercise, one should focus on stress management such as meditation to help ward off a cold. The American Psychological Association cites a meta analysis which found that stress of any significant duration from a few days to years result in “all aspects of immunity going downhill.” 

Given the pernicious effects of stress on the immune system, it is imperative to moderate it. The American Institute of Stress advises victims a range of solutions, from increasing exercise to trying meditation. Meditation offers a myriad of benefits and can be done in several ways such as with Spiritual Meditation or Transcendental Meditation. A 2013 study involving 1295 participants by Dr. Orme Johnson found transcendental meditation to significantly reduce stress. If stress hurts the immune system and meditation can reduce stress, one should try practicing meditation to drive away sickness.

By incorporating more fruits, vegetables and fish in your diet as well as regularly exercising and checking your stress, you can lower your chances of catching a cold. Even though these tips are easier said than done, you should approach each of them one step at a time.