Tips for staying healthy in the dorm

The college year has just begun, leaving many students adapting to life in the dorms and wondering what steps to take to keep their immune systems strong. Germs can be a top concern because of the close quarters and access to fresh, healthy food is often a lost priority because of lack of transportation.

No worries, though – a few precautionary steps can go a long way toward strengthening the body’s immune system and help keep students from spending their valuable time in the School Clinic.

1. Do your homework

Choose a supplement backed by research. Many supplements claim to work in the body, but the published research is what sets it apart. One example are supplements that contain EpiCor, an immune-strengthening ingredient that helps build up the body’s defenses.

2. Make cleaning a best friend

Students in the dorms often touch common things like door knobs and light switches with dirty hands. This also includes desk and dresser drawers, sink faucets and handles on mini-refrigerators. But a recent study showed that students are not taking the steps they should to keep dorm rooms and living areas free of harmful bacteria, which can include E. coli, MRSA and streptococcus, a known cause of bacterial meningitis. Students should use disinfectant sprays and wipes to keep handles, switches and other items clean and free of harmful bacteria, which can compromise the immune system.

3. Wash those hands

Another study looking at the effects of hand washing by students living in dorms showed that symptoms of upper-respiratory infection were reduced between 14 to 39 percent simply by being aware of the importance of hand washing and using an alcohol-based gel hand sanitizer. Not only can hand washing help reduce the risks to a compromised immune system but it can also pay off by allowing students to  spend more time on that research paper instead of in the school health clinic. In addition to a hand sanitizer, the CDC also indicates that cleaning hands with soap and water can decrease the chances of picking up the flu.

4. Keep fresh fruits around

Dorms provide little space for anything beyond beds, clothes and books, but there is always a little space to keep healthy snacks on hand. Fresh fruits can lead to a strong immune system and be particularly beneficial during an oncoming cold and flu season. Bananas and apples require no refrigeration, while citrus fruits such as oranges help strengthen the immune system and fight against disease. Mini-refrigerators can store fresh fruits like blueberries, grapes and strawberries, and cans of fruit, like oranges and peaches, can be kept on hand for back-up. The real difficulty may be finding a place on campus to buy fresh fruit, but a ride to a grocery store or the area food co-op with a friend may be just the trick.

5. Take time to say ‘Om’

It may be hard to do a full yoga routine in the dorm room or even to engage in meditation without strange looks from a roommate, but reducing stress can be a great way to build a strong immune system. Stress increases the adrenaline and cortisol that is released into the body that can wear down immune systems over the long term. Stress may also increase the incidence of catching a cold and inflame conditions such as allergies or asthma.

Students may simply want to pop in a yoga or meditation DVD, listen to a Podcast or download a mobile app such as Daily Yoga or Simply Yoga. Students may also just want to sit on the bed for a few minutes, concentrate on breathing slowly and do their best ‘Om’ to help relax the nerves.

6. Get those ZZZs

This may be the last thing that a super-busy college student wants to hear, but getting enough sleep may increase effectiveness, acuity and sharpness when awake, and help keep the immune system strong. A study on sleep deprivation among college students showed that only 30 percent received a full eight hours of sleep per night, 35 percent stayed awake until 3 a.m. at least once per week, and 60 percent had disturbed sleep-wake patterns. Insufficient sleep can lead to other issues as well, such as the use of alcohol or drugs as sleep aids and a weakened immune system. To help discover deep ZZZs and keep the immune system running strong, students might want to make use of eye pillows, noise-cancelling headphones, ear plugs or even white background noise, like a room fan. Making a commitment to a full night’s sleep could have college students experiencing better physical health and better grades.
Tips courtesy of EpiCor. For more tips and information head over to


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