By Justin Worland
December 27, 2014
TIME Health
For more, visit TIME Health.

Flu season may begin as early as October, but it really heats up in December. To stay healthy and enjoy the holidays, follow these basic flu prevention tips.

Get a flu shot

You should have done this months ago, but it’s not too late. This year’s flu shot may not have been the most effective, but the vaccine is the best protection against the disease, which, it bears reminding, is not just a couple of days feeling woozy—some people have to miss work (and play) for weeks when the virus hits. Look for a place that’s still offering the shot and get vaccinated.

Wash Your Hands

The guidelines are pretty simple. Put soap on your hands and wash them with hot water for 20 seconds. Still, more than 95% of people don’t meet this standard, according to a 2013 study. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you wash your hands frequently, including but not limited to when you eat, sneeze, touch garbage and use the restroom.

Avoid Sick People

This one is obvious. Leave the area if you see someone who looks feverish and is sneezing or coughing. Stay home if you have flu symptoms yourself.

Go to the Gym

Exercise boosts your immune system and makes you less likely to catch the flu. Exercising at least 2 and a half hours a week reduces the likelihood that you’ll catch a flu-like ailment by about 10%, according to a study from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Get Sleep

Your immune system will function best when you’re well rested. Adults typically need 6 to 8 hours each night. If you’re getting less than 6, you may want to rethink your habits.

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