4 ways frequent fliers can strengthen their immune systems

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When you travel frequently for business, you can't afford to catch a cold every time you board an airplane. Staying at the top of your game means maintaining your health so you can be as productive and efficient as possible. To boost your immune system and become a true champion of the skies, follow these tips:

1. Prioritize sleep
A lack of sleep can cause you to feel tired, irritable and groggy. It can even weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to germs that would otherwise bounce off of your natural barriers. If you have to get up early in the morning to catch your flight, consider going to sleep a little earlier the night before. It's also a good idea to bring some earplugs on your trip so you can catch a few hours of shuteye during the flight.

2. Keep your hands clean
During your trip, you probably touch a lot of things without even noticing. You may touch surfaces in your taxi to the airport, brush against surfaces while checking your bags and grabbing your ticket and then there is the airplane seat itself, which may only get a cursory wipe down between routes.

Speaking with NPR, Dr. Mark Gendreau, a specialist at Lahey Medical Center, said, When you look at most infectious diseases, the overwhelming majority are transmitted when you touch a contaminated surface. You grab the doorknob of the airplane bathroom, and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth."

The best way to keep these harmful germs away is to use gel hand sanitizer. Gendreau recommended using a solution that is at least 60 percent alcohol.

You may end up touching many surfaces in the airport.You may end up touching many surfaces in the airport.

3. Stay hydrated
Between the extra physical exertion of getting through the airport and dry air in the plane, travel can be very dehydrating. When you're dehydrated, you may be more likely to catch a cold. This is because your mucus membranes play a vital role in defending against foreign invaders, reported Prevention Magazine. Those defenses get weaker when they don't have an adequate supply of water.

It can be bothersome to have to get up and use the bathroom on an airplane multiple times during a flight. As such, try sipping water throughout the trip rather than downing the whole bottle at takeoff. You should also try to avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can dry you out even more.

4. Build healthy habits
The healthier you are in your everyday life, the easier it will be to maintain your health while traveling. Harvard Medical School suggested building habits such as exercising regularly, eating fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking. Being aware of what behaviors spread germs is the first step in preventing travel-related illnesses.

Around the holidays, there are more people traveling who do not do so regularly. As such, they might not know how to prevent the spread of germs. It's important to be extra vigilant about your health around this time of year so you can enjoy your time away from work and be prepared to jump back into things when the holiday comes to an end.

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