Ok, if you are like us you have had enough of what can only be called the craziest winter we’ve ever seen. Hot then cold, rainy then sunny, and all in the same week! It’s enough to drive a person mad. Now while we have certainly been lucky to have a warmer winter that didn’t bring any ice or snow, many of us are still dealing with the slew of runny noses, sore throats, and for some the flu that coincide with the winter months. For millions of people it’s believed that this is simply an unavoidable time of the year, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. Staying active may just be the key.
Let’s look at some of the biggest factors that affect our immune systems and lead to getting sick:
- Poor nutrition
- Lack of adequate sleep
- Cigarette smoking
Looking at the above list you can already begin to see the link between exercise and getting sick. For instance we know that regular exercise helps fight stress, increases energy levels, and can improve the quality of sleep, thus combating 3 factors directly. But research shows that exercise does more than that. Early studies showed that moderate exercise resulted in a temporary boost in the production of macrophages. These are the cells that attack bacteria that have entered the body. Later studies have shown that during moderate exercise immune cells are actually able to circulate through the body quicker and improve those cells ability to kill bacteria and viruses. The immune system would typically return to normal within a few hours, but by engaging in consistent, regular exercise these changes began to become more long-lasting. That is why there is no surprise that research studies have also shown that individuals who completed an average of 40 minutes of moderate exercise on a daily basis, or near daily basis, had half as many sick days due to colds or sore throats as those who didn’t exercise.
Simply put, consistent moderate exercise should help you to cut down your sick time each year. The key word here is “consistent”. Missing workouts or skipping cardio sessions will increase your likely-hood of down time due to illness. Pair that with good nutritional habits and you may be able to stave off the cold all season and year long! So let’s enjoy this warm winter of ours instead of suffering through a cold or cough when we could be out jogging or hiking!