Since high-performance athletes are especially susceptible to colds and flu, they should take precautions to keep themselves healthy, according to a list of guidelines compiled in an edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine earlier this month.

Some of the advice will sound familiar even to people who have never set foot in a gym.

For example, athletes should always clean hands and nose after sneezing and coughing and keep other people with these symptoms at a safe distance, the guidelines recommend. They should also regularly wash their hands with soap and water.

Another common cold prevention measure also holds true for athletes: avoid sharing drinking bottles, cups, cutlery or towels with other people.

And, like the rest of us, they should avoid excessive drinking and practice safe sex.

Athletes should also minimize contact with infected people, young children, animals and contagious objects, the guidelines emphasize.

When they compete abroad, they should only drink beverages from sealed bottles, avoid raw vegetables and undercooked meat, and wash and peel fruit before eating.

To avoid insect-borne diseases, athletes should wear clothing that covers their arms and legs during training sessions in tropical areas. They should also carry insect repellent, anti-microbial foam or cream and alcohol-based hand washing gel.

“International travel and prolonged flights are also associated with an increased risk of illness in athletes,” Schwellnus said. “Modern day athletes are required to travel extensively in some instances.”