Thanks to Jen at Serenity Day Spa and Wellness Center for sharing my latest blog on their website! -No better way to beat off this cold and flu season with a workout- Enjoy!
It’s that time again – cold and flu season. Who doesn’t know someone, even themselves, who has been fighting off a long lasting cold already this winter?
You may start loading up on hand sanitizer to fend off those nasty germs, but why not get on the treadmill instead? Working out when you feel like you’re coming down with a cold can be a really good idea.
Behind the scenes of the common cold
We hear that colds and flu are caused by nasty viruses, but we can also think of getting sick because of a weak immune system. Your immune system is normally fully capable of zapping viral invaders such as the cold virus. The only time the virus can take hold is when your immune system isn’t up to speed. Although there are many ways you might end up with a weakened immune system, the more common factors are:
- Not eating healthily,
- being under chronic stress
- not getting enough sleep, and
- being sedentary.
Wish it was simple to just take care of all these factors at once, but let’s take it slow and start with exercise.
What’s exercise got to do with it?
Some interesting studies have shown doing regular exercise will help prevent catching colds in the first place. For example, one study found that moderate exercise for postmenopausal women reduced the risk of colds by half!
But, the jury is out on exactly how exercise strengthens the immune system. Some studies show that people who exercise have better-functioning white blood cells (the ones that help fight off infection) than people who don’t exercise.
Exercise is also well known to release endorphins. Endorphins are natural hormones that affect the brain in positive ways. They ease pain and promote a sense of relaxation and well-being – all of which can help you de-stress and sleep better, which in turn improve immunity.
To get the most benefits from exercise, mix it up a bit. Don’t just stick to your routine. Tryout some new moves, experience a new class, and, most importantly, incorporate anaerobic or high intensity interval training-type exercises.
What if I’m already sick?
The average American will have one to four colds this year. That number jumps to six or seven for young children!
With a stuffy nose or a raspy cough, your bed may be calling you. However, doing some cardiovascular exercise may be able to help you feel better. At the very least, it is unlikely to do you any harm unless you exercise too vigorously. Try some mild exercises focusing on stretching, balance and strength training to keep you moving and keep your immune system in check.
But there’s no time!
Whenever you struggle with your time management, remember that exercise is every bit as important as eating, sleeping and breathing… Viewing exercise as a necessary, non-negotiable part of your day is the trick to getting it done. Ideally, schedule it into your appointment book the way you would an important meeting or social event. Set the time for it and then make no excuses about keeping it.
Above all, always listen to what your body is telling you. If you feel too fatigued to work out, don’t push it. More than likely, what you need is rest. But if you’re thinking of skipping your workout routine simply because you’re not up to par, think again. It could actually help you feel better, sooner!
American College of Sports Medicine Current Comment—Exercise and the Common Cold: www.acsm.org
American Journal of Medicine November 2006; 119(11):937
Mercola, Joseph. “Got a Cold? Here’s a Trick to Feel Better Fast.” Mercola, 16 March 2012. Web. 07 January 2015.