When the mercury drops, keep your immunity rising with a few smart, simple strategies.

1) Wash Up – Regular hand washing should be a special focus to keep viruses and bacteria at bay. Wash well (palms, between fingers, under fingernails) before eating, after using the restroom and touching contaminated surfaces like doorknobs or visiting high-risk places like a school or daycare. Teach your children the right way to wash too!

2) The Nose Knows – Despite the idea of it, nasal irrigation’s benefits far away the “ick” factor. Flushing your nasal passage gets rid of infectious, irritating agents that enter the body through the nose. It also thins mucus and makes it easier for the body’s natural defenses to expel. Always use distilled, sterile or boiled water, and clean your neti pot or syringe regularly.

3) Act on It – Staying active is one of your best defenses, so keep your family moving. Try new activities like indoor or outdoor ice skating, or go for a quick walk. Regular exercise boosts your immune system and offers innumerable benefits including weight control and heart/lung impacts.

4) Sleep on It – Regular rest benefits the body and soul in more ways than you can imagine. While most of us can’t quite catch the 7 to 9 hours of shuteye that’s recommended year-round, cold weather brings out our natural inclination to hibernate. Don’t fight it; use the opportunity to catch up with some early bedtimes and better rest.

5) Eat Well – While cold weather breeds the desire for comfort food as much as colds and flu, your body craves more. Fruits and vegetables give your body the fuel it needs to fight the viruses and bacteria that are more likely to attack your body in winter. Keep your diet balanced, and don’t forget to throw in some immune-boosting dairy to ensure you’re at your peak.