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Exercise to Make the Common Cold Less Common

24 Oct

A cold is the most common illness we experience during a lifetime. Each year adults will suffer two or three colds, while young children about six or seven. Cold viruses cause the illness that spread through the air or by simple hand to hand contact with the infected person, objects or surfaces.

Damp, cold or drafty weather is not the cause of a cold, however it brings people together indoors and leads to more person to person contact. Vitamin C does not prevent colds, but it may slightly reduce the severity and duration of symptoms. All we can do to treat most colds is rest, drink plenty of hot fluids and buy an over the counter cold remedy to get comfort.

Whether we get sick with a cold after a sufficient amount of virus has entered the body depends on many factors. Factors affecting the immune system and increasing the risk of infection are: Mental stress, low food intake, rapid weight loss, lack of sleep and poor hygienic practices. Additionally, having too much fat on your body negatively impacts your body’s ability to fight disease. Body fat can inhibit the ability of white blood cells to multiply, produce antibodies, and prevent inflammation.

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Ines, her son and Tango walking under the rain!

Can we prevent a cold through regular exercise? Several exercise training studies with adults support this belief. Exercise such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming and sports play, enhance movement of important immune cells throughout the body. During exercise stress hormones, which can suppress immunity, are not elevated. Although the immune system returns to pre-exercise levels very quickly after the exercise session is over, each session represents a boost that reduces the risk of infection over the long term.

We live in a world where viruses and bacteria are everywhere waiting to pounce on any of us with weakened immune system. Keep your immune defenses operating normally by following a variety of lifestyle habits:

  • Exercise moderately on most days of the week to improve the ability of the immune system to detect and destroy viruses.
  • Avoid overtraining and chronic fatigue, and do not exercise when ill with a fever. This can lead to more severe symptoms, relapse and sustained feelings of fatigue.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet to keep vitamin and mineral pools in the body at optimal levels. Nutrient supplements are typically not needed by healthy adults and will not boost immune function above normal levels.
  • Keep life stresses to a minimum and practice stress management techniques.
  • Obtain adequate sleep on a regular schedule. Sleep disruption has been linked to suppressed immunity.
  • Limit exposure to viruses and bacteria by washing your hands frequently, and avoid touching your eyes and nose (the primary route of introducing viruses into the body).

Exercise every day to strengthen your immune system and to avoid a cold this winter!

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