Doctors and nurses are exposed to some of the most virulent bacteria and viruses in their line of work, but still manage to keep from getting sick all the time. How do these medical professionals bolster their immune systems, and what can we learn from them to help us stay healthy?

1. Wash Your Hands

Washing your hands is one of the best ways to keep yourself from getting sick and prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses from person to person. This is a large part of why you see doctors and nurses washing their hands so frequently, especially if they work in an environment like a hospital where they’re seeing a large variety of patients.

Scrub your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds with hot water and antibacterial soap. If counting to 20 doesn’t appeal to you, simply sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice to yourself — it’s the same amount of time!

2. Make Time for a Flu Shot

It’s that time of year — time to get your flu shot before the flu season gets into full swing. While you might not fall into the target demographic for this vaccine — doctors recommend flu shots for the young, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems — you can still benefit from getting your flu shot every year. It protects you from the most common strains of the flu each year, and if you are exposed to the virus, it can potentially help prevent you from losing days of work or school in misery as you suffer through the flu.

3. Sanitize Everything

Your doctors and nurses probably carry alcohol wipes or alcohol-based sanitizer with them while they’re working to disinfect their hands and equipment between patients. This habit isn’t just to protect their patients — it’s to protect themselves from getting sick. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers and cleaners are proven to kill viruses and bacteria and make it easier for doctors and nurses to keep their equipment and environment as sanitary as possible.

Sanitization becomes even more important in highly populated areas like hospitals because there are so many airborne bacteria and viruses to contend with — many of which can survive on unsanitized surfaces. They don’t stand a chance when you use alcohol-based sanitizers.

4. Exercise Every Day

One of the easiest ways to stay healthy is to start healthy, and exercise is key. You don’t need to run a marathon or lift crazy amounts of weight every single day. Just stay active — go for the stairs over taking the elevator, or walk around the block during your lunch break.

A healthy body means a healthier immune system. Regular physical activity decreases your chances of getting sick.

5. Think About Your Gut Health

The majority of your immune system depends on the health of your gastrointestinal tract, so eating healthy is another one of the best ways to keep from getting sick. Focus on foods high in fiber like whole grains and raw vegetables, as well as foods that contain probiotics that encourage healthy gut bacteria growth.

Also, try to avoid processed foods wherever possible — the high levels of sodium and preservatives in these foods are detrimental to gut health.

6. Wear a Mask

Ideally, if you’re sick, the best thing to do is stay home and rest until you feel better, but that isn’t always possible. If you’re stuck heading to work when you’re feeling under the weather, your best bet is to do everything you can to prevent your contagious self from spreading your germs to the rest of your colleagues.

First, reread the sections above about sterilizing and hand-washing — wash your hands as often as possible, and keep hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes on you at all times. Also, invest in some paper face masks, especially if your symptoms include coughing or sneezing. This will keep you from spreading more airborne germs while you’re sick.

Doctors and nurses are human, too, and yes — sometimes, they also get sick. Preparation, hand-washing and a healthy foundation help keep them from getting sick, and make it easier to recover if they do fall ill. We can apply almost all these things in our daily lives to keep ourselves just as healthy!

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