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Protecting yourself in the sky

It's not just catching a cold that travelers worry about when they leave home. As this past Friday's Weekend Journal reports ("Defending Your Airspace"), frequent fliers also fret over foot fungus, flu viruses and other nasty germs.

** Editor's Note: We recently posted about how to NOT get a cold when you travel. Read it HERE.

The bottom line? Don't go barefoot through security, wash your hands often, don't lick the blankets and pillows, and if the guy/gal next to you is a sickly mess, you're hosed-unless you're bold enough to sport a surgical mask and/or are flying SWA and can discreetly switch seats.

One additional tip worth relaying from the report, the air is better (read cleaner) up front.

While it can't hurt to invest in hand gel, disinfecting wipes and other counter-germ measures, keeping your stress level low and good health quotient high will add an important layer of protection. Research blames stress for compromising one's immunity and all other sorts of health ills.

One surefire means of controlling stress: exercise. The heart pumping will help keep you on top of your work game, improve your sleep, and boost your immunities.

Eating well will seal the deal. Nothing is more counterproductive to staying healthy when away from home than ingesting a sugar and fat laden meal before you even arrive. Instead, bring something with you-energy bar, trail mix, turkey jerky, even a packaged Whole Foods' salad (but be ready for the longing stares from your fellow passengers who are stuck with oreos and greasy chips).

Lastly, don't psych yourself out. Despite an observable correlation between travel and sickness, it is unclear where you pick up the virus. So going all out on the protection en route is no guarantee that you won't end up sick. Instead think about being healthy for the duration of your trip. Exercising and eating well will help.

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