Exercise can thwart illness – but not all sweat sessions are equally fierce.
When you get into a workout groove, everything runs as it should, including your ability to fend off an invading cold or flu.
“Moderate exercise helps boost immunity by increasing the movement of immune cells, which seek and destroy viruses and bacteria”. But get this: If your sweat sessions is long or intense, your risk of catching something – for up to 72 hours afterward – is as much as six times greater. For your next workout, follow these bug-fighting strategies.
- Pop a Multivitamin :A busy schedule can cause unbalanced eating habits – but a daily multivitamin can help fill in missing vitamins and mineral and possibly help support your immune system.
- Catch Some Z’s : A good snooze is vital to your muscles’ repair process – and it’s just as constructive for your immunity: Clocking less than seven hours a night makes you three times more likely to catch a cold than if you get eight hours or more, found a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
- Check Yourself : Fatigue is a warning sign of overtraining, which can tank your immunity. Before you exercise, rate yourself on a scale of one to five (one being totally energized, five being completely exhausted). At three or four, cut back on your planned workout’s intensity or duration. At five, stay home. “Taking a day or two off won’t impact your training”.
- Carb Load : Exercising when your blood sugar is low prompts your body to rebound with more wellness-bashing stress hormones. If your workout will last an hour or more, plan to consume 60 grams of carbohydrates – that’s a cup of sports drink or half a banana (about 15 grams of carbs) every 15 to 30 minutes of exercise. A study found that both are equally effective in fueling athletes and preventing post-exercise inflammation.
- Watch Your Pace : If you’re training for an endurance event like a marathon or triathlon, longer workouts will get you accustomed to being on your feet (or bike seat) for extended periods of time. But don’t go crazy. Run, pedal, or swim at a moderate pace, since pushing too hard or fast mimics the immune-depleting effects of the actual event.
- Listen to Your body : You’re no wimp, but if fatigue makes you lose your form , that’s a sign you could be exerting yourself beyond your threshold. Take a minute or two to catch your breath, an then get back into your workout at a slightly lower intensity.
- Fend Off Germs : This should be a “duh” by now, but just in case: Proper hygiene is the top way to prevent the spread of germs – especially right after a long, hard workout, when your immunity may be compromised. Wash your hands often and keep them away from your face. At work, use disinfecting wipes once a week on your keyboard, phone, stapler – anything that is shared.
- Eat Your Greens : Make like Popeye and fill up on spinach (or bok choy, brussels sprouts, or lettuce),. “The antioxidants boost your resistance to viral infections.” Aim for at least two servings of green goodness a day.
Heavy exertion during an illness, particularly a fever or flu, can worsen and prolong your symptoms. But a runny nose isn’t a free pass to lounge in bed. Depending on your symptoms, a moderate workout might not hurt you.
Headache (if minor)
Cough (if Minor)
Runny or stuffy nose and sneezing
Mildly sore throat
- Stay Home
Chest congestion, coughing (from the chest), and wheezing
Fever (above 101 degree F)
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea