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Keeping your hands away keeps the flu at bay

Saturday - 12/1/2012, 1:35pm  ET

WASHINGTON - Avoiding the common cold or flu this winter season may be easier than previously thought.

In addition to washing hands frequently, scientists also recommend touching things less frequently and keeping your hands away from your face.

Researchers with the National Institutes of Health picked people at random to watch in public places, including on the Metrorail system.

The researchers found the average person touches common objects 3.3 times an hour, and touches his or her face 3.6 times an hour.

The frequency of touching both objects and body parts gives bacteria and viruses a chance to spread from surfaces to the body and back between hand washings.

The findings were published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

WTOP's Michelle Basch contributed to this report. Follow @mbaschWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)