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10 Tips to Prevent Colds During the Volleyball Season

The weather is starting to change and the cold season will fall upon our teams.  I sent out the following to my team after some research online and modified it to fit our athletes.

Follow these 10 tips NOW to feel and perform at your best.

#1 Wash Your Hands

It seems pretty obvious, especially immediately after practice and use of the weight room. The common cold is mostly spread by direct contact. So, someone sneezes onto their hand, and then touches something, which is then picked up by the next person, who touches that object. Washing your hands and using hand sanitizer often can significantly reduce your chance of picking up nasty germs.

#2 Don’t Cover Your Sneezes and Coughs With Your Hands

Because germs and viruses cling to your bare hands, muffling coughs and sneezes with your hands results in passing along your germs to others. When you feel a sneeze or cough coming, use a tissue, then throw it away immediately. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the inside of your elbow.

#3 Don’t Touch Your Face

Cold and flu viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose, or mouth. Touching their faces is the major way to catch colds, and a key way they pass colds on to teammates.

#4 Drink Plenty of Fluids

Water flushes your system, washing out the poisons as it rehydrates you. A typical, healthy adult needs eight 8-ounce glasses of fluids each day. How can you tell if you’re getting enough liquid? If the color of your urine runs close to clear, you’re getting enough. If it’s deep yellow, you need more fluids.

Swap green tea for coffee. Even if it is once a week. Green tea provides many benefits; coffee is dehydrating.

#5 Eat A Nutrient-Rich Diet

Focus on eating a healthy, whole food diet, rather than worrying about what multivitamin to take this fall. Before you think of reaching for pills to help you avoid a cold, you need to realize that good food can do so much more for your body than any pill can. When you eat food, it has a natural synergy with your body. It works with it, and your body understands it. Nutrients in a pill can never have the same beneficial effect.

Colorful Variety

Think of nutritious foods as part of your cold-and-flu armor. This will help you to do battle with whenever illnesses try to strike your body. Make sure your diet is filled with whole fruits and vegetables, in a variety of different colors, such as dark greens, reds, yellows, and purples. This will build up your immune system, and fight inflammation, if you do catch a cold.

Vitamin C

This vitamin has been studied for many years as a possible way to prevent and treat colds. Vitamin C may be useful for individuals who have a low level of this nutrient to begin with, for example, elite athletes who are routinely involved in vigorous exercise. Eating an orange a day is beneficial.

#6 Eat Yogurt

Some studies have shown that eating a daily cup of low-fat yogurt can reduce your susceptibility to colds by 25%. Researchers think the beneficial bacteria in yogurt may stimulate production of immune system substances that fight disease. So, if you don’t already, eat one cup of natural, “active” yogurt each day, to boost your cold-prevention system.

#7 Don’t Skip Meals

If you skip meals, you are much more susceptible to minor illnesses, such as colds and flus because you are depleting your body of essential nutrients to help fight infection.

#8 Cut Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol use suppresses the immune system in a variety of ways. Drinkers are more prone to initial infections as well as secondary complications. Alcohol also dehydrates the body — it actually causes more fluid loss from your system than it puts in. Alcohol inhibits muscle gains and increases fat as it interferes with the metabolism of protein, fat in the liver, and causes impaired production of pancreatic enzymes needed for fat metabolism. Alcohol use can negatively affect your emotions and physical performance as far as 7 to 10 days after consumption.

#9 Get 8 Hours of Sleep EVERY Night

Time management is one of the most essential skills to a successful student-athlete, this includes managing your time effectively to get 8 hours a sleep per night. The studies are clear: Those who sleep less are much more susceptible to the cold virus once they’re exposed. In one study published in the January 2009 Archives of Internal Medicine, people who slept fewer than seven hours a night were three times more likely to develop a cold when exposed to a rhinovirus compared to those who slept eight or more hours a night.

#10 Relax

If you can teach yourself to relax, you can activate your immune system on demand. There’s evidence that when you put your relaxation skills into action, your interleukins — leaders in the immune system response against cold and flu viruses — increase in the bloodstream. Train yourself to picture an image you find pleasant or calming. Do this 30 minutes a day for several months. Keep in mind, relaxation is a learnable skill, but it is not doing nothing. People who try to relax, but are in fact bored, show no changes in blood chemicals.


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