5 places with the most germs to avoid during flu season

DENVER (KDVR) -- A group of doctors at American Family Care has listed the five places to avoid during flu season.

  • Bank ATM's: If you have to use one, use your knuckles instead of your fingertips.
  • Community pens: Try to carry a pen and avoid using the public pen.
  • Other people's hands: You don't want to be rude, but try not skaing other people's hands. Try an elbow bump instead.
  • Cellphone: Phones are a lot and end up in lots of different places. Be sure to clean it often.
  • Gas pumps: Try to wipe them down beforehand or wash up afterward.

Dr. Kristin Woodward said the flu virus can live two to eight hours on surfaces, so it's important to take precautions.

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Ways to make 2017 your healthiest year yet
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Ways to make 2017 your healthiest year yet
Eat smart

Some foods aren't as healthy as they seem, and sometimes "reduced-fat" is actually worse for you than the original food. Take peanut butter, for example: Reduced fat peanut butter often has more refined carbohydrates and sugars -- with the fat in original PB replaced with ingredients like "corn syrup solids, sugar and molasses (read: even more sugar), plus starchy fillers." Yuck.

Just eat the real stuff, in healthy amounts.

Read more: 12 foods nutritionists won't eat

Take a dance class

I don't care if it's ballet, swing, or zumba -- taking a dance class can burn hundreds of calories in just one hour, and it's way more fun than running on the treadmill. Plus, you can do it with your friends, which will make you much more inclined to go!

Read more: The fastest calorie-burning dance classes, ranked

Drink smoothies

Smoothies shouldn't replace meals entirely (unless you're looking for a light breakfast!) but including them in your schedule is an easy way to add essential nutrients to your diet and help you detox. And trust us, if you use the right fruit, it *won't* taste like grass. 

Read more: The ultimate green smoothie you'll actually enjoy

Take time to de-stress

It helps with your mental health, you physical health, your appearance ... really your overall well-being. Take time to de-stress from the big stuff, and seek out what's adding unnecessary stress to your life. Then do your best to remove those unnecessary factors all together.

Our most important tip? Start learning to say "no" more.

Read more: 7 easy ways to reduce stress

Travel

We can't stress this enough. There's nothing like experiencing new places, new cultures, and meeting new people. There's nothing that makes you feel entirely existential and completely human at the same time.

Travel.

Read more: 17 must-see destinations to visit in 2017

Take care of your mental health

Take care of your mental health this year -- and that of those you love. Talk. Listen. Do your best to understand -- and seek help when necessary.

Mental health should never be hidden away or brushed under the rug.

Read more: How Kate Middleton is causing a "national shift" in mental health discussion

Build yourself a home gym

Create the perfect home workout system for you. If you're a private person and don't really like working out alongside others at the gym, all you need to do is invest in the right home products for your best workout -- and it doesn't have to be a massive treadmill or expensive weights system.

Read more: The ultimate home workout gear to kickstart 2017 (all under $130)

Don't be afraid of the elements

Love running but hate doing it when the weather gets freezing? Don't be afraid of the elements -- just stock up on the right gear so you can get out there. 

Read more: Cold weather workout gear to keep you motivated this winter

Meditate

Seriously -- try it. It just might change your life.

Meditating can be something you spend 20 minutes on, or 2 hours. It's completely up to you, and it's entirely for you. So go on. Those who love it have experienced better sleep, less stress, better peace of mind ... it might even make you younger. Sounds pretty great, right? 

Read more: Study: Meditation could make your brain 7 years younger

Get regular health checks -- and check yourself

A story has gone viral recently about an early cancer diagnosis being triggered by lemons.  In actuality, there was a graphic released that showed lemons with various imperfections along with the caption "what breast cancer can look and feel like." One woman saw this ad and immediately knew she had breast cancer.

Go to your doctor for your yearly check-ups, check yourself regularly for anything off about your health, and when in doubt, ask.

Read more: Woman credits early cancer diagnosis to viral lemon photo

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"Make sure you wash hands frequently, and if you can't wash your hands, carry some hand sanitizer," Woodward said.

"We also recommend that you not touch your face. The flu virus enters the mouth and the nose and the eyes, and that is how we get sick."

This flu season seems to be a bit worse than last year.

"The data we have from Jan. 14 is there have been about 700 hospitalizations in Colorado, slightly up from last year at this same time," Woodward said.

The predominant strain of flu this year is a type A virus that is covered by the vaccine, so Woodward's best advice is to get the flu shot.

Flu season peaks between December and March, but it can last into May.

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