If you want to ward off colds—and worse—this fall and winter, new research offers some help.
Colds are bad enough. But about 5% of them morph into something more serious—sinus infections, bronchitis or pneumonia—and people 65 and older are particularly susceptible to that threat, says William Schaffner, an infectious-disease specialist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tenn. Flu, meanwhile, puts thousands of people in the hospital each year.
Your best defense starts with diligent hand-washing and a flu shot. But studies suggest that there are additional steps you can take to stay free of respiratory illnesses, or at least make a speedier recovery. Here are some of those steps.
Practicing so-called mindfulness meditation—a combination of gentle yoga and meditation—for eight weeks reduced the incidence, intensity and duration of cold and flu symptoms by 40% to 50% among a group of people over age 50, compared with people in a control group who didn’t meditate, researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, Wis., found.