In my last column, I talked about staying healthy by building and maintaining a strong immune system. It’s a solid and proven way to avoid most influenza and viruses. And another good strategy is social and physical distancing. Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. Staying at least six feet away from others lessens your chances of catching COVID-19.

While it’s disappointing to hear that so many sports events, concerts, travel plans, cruises, festivals and other gatherings are being cancelled, there is a public health reason for them. The cancellations help stop or slow down the spread of disease allowing the health care system to more readily care for patients over time.

Other examples of social and physical distancing that allow you to avoid crowds or crowded spaces are:

-- Working from home

-- Closing schools or switching to online classes

-- Cancelling faith services to broadcasting online

-- Connecting with loved ones by electronic devices instead of in person

-- Cancelling or postponing conferences and large meetings

-- Closing gyms, libraries and other public places

-- Limiting the number of shoppers in grocery stores at one time

For those who have been exposed to the virus and who are at risk for coming down with COVID-19 should practice self-quarantine. Health professionals say that self-quarantine lasts 14 days and the two weeks gives enough time to find out if they will become ill and contagious.

Isolation uses the same techniques as self-quarantine. It is a term that means keeping people who are infected with a contagious illness away from those who are not infected. Isolation can take place at home or at a hospital or care facility. Tips on self- quarantining:

-- Use standard hygiene and washing hands frequently

-- Do not share things like towels and utensils

-- Do not share drinking glasses and plates

-- Stay home

-- Do not have guest or visitors in your home

-- Stay 6 feet away from others in your household

After the 2 week period, if you do not have symptoms, follow your doctor’s instructions on how to return to your normal lifestyle.

The reason for the six feet, it’s the average distance that respiratory droplets from a sneeze or cough travel before settling and no longer can be inhaled by other people. As long as someone's not outwardly ill, though, you should be safe maintaining a 6-foot distance. Proper social distancing also means thinking about how the need to maintain that distance affects others around you.

The last tip, make sure that you stay informed and follow any advice given by your healthcare provider. Do not respond to secondhand information. Staying up to date can arm you with the right information to make the best decisions for yourself and your loved ones.

Carol Marak, aging advocate, She’s earned a Certificate in the Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.