It’s not the brisk, cold weather that contributes to sniffles and sneezes during those cold, winter months; it’s the fact that people tend to be inside more, and more readily exposed to other peoples’ germs and viruses. Every year, employers lose about $20 billion in paid sick days, and countless people suffer through lethargic episodes of cold and flu.

Staying out in the cold weather won’t give you a cold, but it can weaken your immune system and be a challenge to keep up an active and healthy lifestyle. Though it may be easy to fall into a lazy routine in the colder months, these tips will help you keep yourself in shape and healthy all year long.

1. Stay Active
The extreme weather that comes in the Winter can make a couch potato out of many of us, but there are ways to get your heart rate up without braving the cold. There’s still nothing quite like a brisk walk – so long as you wear a warm winter coat – but if you simply can’t bear the cold weather, try out a gym in your area if you don't already have a membership, or invest in home fitness gear, so you don't even have to leave your house. Even activities like walking around a mall or doing some light yoga between commercial breaks while watching TV can help to keep you in shape.

2. Get Plenty of Sleep
Getting enough sleep is key to living a healthy life. Not only does sleep allow your body to heal and rest, it also allows your brain to function properly during the day. Studies show that getting a good night's rest can help boost learning abilities and problem-solving skills. Being sleep deprived has been linked to mood changes, so make sure to hit the hay early to stave off the winter blues.

3. Use Homeopathic Remedies to Strengthen Your Immune System
Healthy supplements can be the difference between getting a bad case of the flu and escaping cold season unscathed. One such product is an FDA registered homeopathic remedy for both children and adults called Cold-Fix, which works with your body's immune system to prevent colds and flu. Cold-Fix can be used even if you've already contracted such an illness and can help to treat and shorten the duration of symptoms. Using a safe preventative like Cold-Fix can be imperative in keeping yourself healthy during the winter.

4. Wash Your Hands Often
A little hand sanitizer goes a long way. A Children’s Hospital of Boston study showed that those families which carried hand sanitizer with them on their daily routines had 59 percent fewer cases of stomach bugs than those who did not. Even plain soap and water helps.

The importance of washing your hands have probably been explained to you often from early childhood on, but just because a piece of information is heard does not mean that it is properly or regularly heeded. During cold and flu season it is even more important to be vigilant about practicing proper hand washing practices to combat the transference of germs and viruses. Organic anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitizers help lower the chances of picking up diseases from everyday objects and other people.

5. Pay Attention to Sickness Outbreaks in Your Area
Being informed goes a long way, especially during cold and flu season. Keep tabs on news stories about disease outbreaks and prepare yourself accordingly. Paying attention to who around you is sick is equally as important. If your peers become ill, you may want to take precautions to keep yourself healthy. Sometimes it's better to stay home for one day than to go into work or school and contract a cold that will keep you in bed for a week.

6. Keep a Healthy Diet
It goes without saying that a healthy diet is a good idea any time of year, but it’s especially important in the winter months to avoid processed sugars and fast food meals. During the winter, pay extra attention to your diet, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you eat meat, keep it organic. It’s tempting when you’re staying in for days at a time to resort to your favorite comfort foods, but avoiding them will keep you healthy.

7. Keep Stress Levels Down
Chill out. Relax. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It may not be medicine, but it will keep you healthier. A 2012 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that those who had a stressful event were twice as likely to catch a cold.

These simple habits and products are invaluable to making your winter productive and enjoyable, while avoiding harmful chemicals and unnatural irritants. Making sure you stay active, get the proper amount of sleep, use holistic treatments, wash your hands, and stay informed will help keep you healthy during the winter months. Your body and mind will thank you.

Author's Bio: 

Dan Blacharski is managing editor of SpotlightingNews.