It may be the most joyful time of the year, but along with the beautiful snow, crowds of people, and a drop in temperature comes the sickness – something we’d all like to avoid!  

Flu season peaks in the winter, with the cold weather keeping people indoors and in closer proximity to one another. Also, according to Medical News Today germs are more likely to survive and spread in cold and dry conditions. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that blood pressure tends to increase during the winter, leading to an increase in heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular events.  

With shorter days and Vitamin D in shorter supply (this vitamin plays a vital role in keeping the immune system healthy), it’s harder to stay healthy. 

But there is good news! There are many things you can do to help boost your immune system and stay healthy all winter long. A nice, relaxing massage tops our list! 

According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), research has found that regular massages have been shown to make the immune system stronger. The action stimulates the lymphatic system, a network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials. In one study, participants in a Swedish massage group experienced significant changes in lymphocytes. Participants also had lower levels of cytokines (molecules that play a role in inflammation).

In another study researchers worked with patients who had compromised immune systems and found that massage therapy improved how the immune system functioned. These same benefits apply to preventing seasonal illnesses, the cold and flu. 

And about that blood pressure rising in the winter —  massage therapy has also been shown to be effective in lowering blood pressure, a big contributor of heart disease. 

Here are a few other tips to prevent illness: 

Wash your hands. This is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick. The CDC recommends scrubbing for at least 20 seconds and washing before eating food, before and after caring for someone who is sick, after using the bathroom, and after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing. Be sure to dry them off well with a clean towel. If you don’t have access to soap and water, then alcohol-based hand sanitizer is the next best choice.  

Get plenty of sleep. According to most adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep. Without enough sleep, the body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation, effectively creating an immune response.

Exercise. According to the American Heart Association adults should shoot for 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week. Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways reducing your chance of picking up an illness, according to MedlinePlus

Eat Well. Choose foods that are rich in antioxidants and disease fighting properties. Healthline has several suggestions for natural immune system boosters. 

Let us help keep you healthy with a massage at one of our two convenient Lehigh Valley locations! Get your appointment on the calendar by booking online.