If you've ever wondered what they're doing that you're not, you're about to find out. We asked some uber-healthy individuals to reveal how they dodge colds, flu, and other common ailments. Read on and steal their tricks for yourself.
Supplement with C
Although the scientific evidence that vitamin C improves immunity has been lackluster, Sam from NSW swears by it. "Every time I start to feel something coming on, I take 2,000 units of vitamin C up to four times a day and it just knocks whatever bug right out of me," he says. "I do the same thing anytime I encounter someone else who's sick. I haven't had more than a few sniffles in 15 years."
Sleep it off
"Getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night is how I stay healthy," says Amelia from Victoria. Sleep experts agree that getting plenty of shut-eye is key for a strong immune system. In fact, research shows that people who sleep only 5 to 6 hours a night have a 30% chance of catching a cold when exposed to the virus; those who get more than 7 hours reduce their risk to 17%.
Strengthen your mental resolve
Talk about mind over matter: "When people around me complain about how sick they get at specific times of the year, I say that I rarely get sick—and I don't. It's the power of belief," says Elisha, a nurse in Sydney.
Get a handle on stress
It's been proven to weaken the immune system, yet it's impossible to avoid. So your goal should be to manage stress in a healthy way, says Kathy Gruver, author of The Alternative Medicine Cabinet. "I work hard on controlling my responses to stressors through dancing, daily meditation, visualizations, and affirmations."
Stay squeaky clean
"I wash my hands all the time and open doors and touch elevator buttons with a clean tissue whenever possible," says Dan Collins, who works in media relations at a hospital. "When I return to my desk, I immediately grab my supply of antibacterial hand wipes. And whenever my eye itches, I never use the tip of my finger to scratch unless I can sanitize my finger first; instead, I use my knuckle or the back of my hand, as these areas have had less contact with germs than my fingertips."
Collins also holds his breath "for a good 15 seconds" if he walks by someone who sneezes, and he takes zinc at the first sign that a cold is trying to take hold (usually a telltale back-of-the-throat tickle)—a habit that research supports.
Work it out
Regular exercise strengthens the immune system and makes you less likely to catch upper respiratory infections, according to a study in the Journal of Sport and Health Science. "My husband and I work out at least three times a week, and we've been working with a personal trainer for a number of years," says Julie Michener, from Queensland. "I think that's why I don't get sick even when everyone else in my office does."