(Woman's Day) The arrival of winter doesn't mean you're guaranteed to get sick, but it does seem that, during the colder months, you're constantly barraged by coughing and sneezing from those around you. A nasty cold or the flu is a terrible way to spend the weekend, especially when there are so many fun winter activities to check off the list. Luckily, there are plenty of easy things you can do to ward off germs and viruses this season. Here are some doctor-approved methods to stay healthy this season.

Don't share utensils
You might think it's cute to feed your loved one a bite of food from your fork, but you should think twice before sharing utensils. According to the Cleveland Clinic, cold and flu viruses can be transmitted via saliva, so keep those forks to yourself.

Sing the ABCs when you wash your hands
Dr. Tom Rifai, CEO of Reality Meets Science and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Wayne State University, tells Woman's Day that it's important to wash your hands regularly to avoid spreading germs. His fun tip to make sure you're being thorough: Go through the ABCs while you do it. He adds that you want to give extra wash time to your fingertips and the back of your knuckles, which are common parts of the hand people use to touch their faces.

Get vaccinated
Vaccines aren't a "silver bullet," says Dr. Rifai, but "when you look at the data, they work pretty well." Your best effort to avoid getting the flu necessitates getting a flu shot. Dr. Rifai stresses that getting vaccinated is about more than just your personal health, it's about protecting others whose immune systems are at a greater risk for getting the flu and not being able to fight it off, such as young children and the elderly.

Take your shoes off at home
Dr. Elliott suggests keeping a basket by the front door where you can place your shoes when you get home. "It will help prevent tracking viruses and bacteria in the home," she says.

Consider wearing a mask
If public transportation is a part of your day-to-day, must, it can often feel like you're trapped in a germ-filled box. And, that's partially true. To combat this, Dr. Rifai suggests wearing mask can to protect you from others' germs. A 2008 study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases found that when people correctly used masks - meaning they had a nice tight fit and were sealed around nasal passages - they were 80 percent less likely to be diagnosed with the flu.

Exercise daily
Research shows that weaving a workout, like a brisk walk, into your daily routine could cut your risk of catching a cold by a whopping 50%."Regular exercise stimulates the brain to produce more serotonin, dopamine, and human growth hormone," Pamela Peeke, M.P.H., an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, tells Woman's Day. "These compounds help your body optimize production of germ-fighting antibodies, and make them more aggressive when they encounter invaders." More good news: "Even chunks of exercise - 15 minutes here or there - can be enough!"

Turn on the TV
Tuning in for 30 minutes today may protect you from colds and flu later. According to researchers at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, taking a daily TV break can cut your risk of developing illness by up to 80%. "The stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin slow down white blood cells, making it harder for them to kill invading viruses," Dr. Demers says. "But a fun-filled break that leaves you feeling relaxed squashes adrenaline and cortisol output within minutes, allowing your immune system to aggressively attack invaders."

Get more sleep
Another reason to work in enough winks: "Deep sleep is your body's prime time for building infection-fighting antibodies and interleukins, [which are] natural inflammation and illness fighters," Dr. Peeke says. Studies have also shown that being chronically tired can almost double your risk of catching nasty infections, not to mention you'll stay sick longer. Fortunately, snoozing for eight hours can reduce your risk, so power down and hit the hay.


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