Workout More, Get Sick Less
Being sick sucks, plain and simple – you might get a day or two off from work or school from it, but the sneezing, coughing, sore throat and exhaustion tend to make it a miserable day off at best. We are entering into the prime time of the year for the ceremonial passing around of the cold virus, but there are things that you can do that will greatly lessen your chances of catching a cold.
Lots of people will tell you that the key to staying healthy during this time of year lies in over the counter purchases from your local pharmacy. Vitamin C supplements, Airborne and Emergen-C can all be found on the tops of people’s list that are looking to make it through cold season unscathed. Anti-bacterial soap, hand sanitizer and general avoidance of the rest of the population may also keep you from coming down with a nasty cold, but these may not be the most favorable or most plausible methods for helping you to avoid getting sick. What you and your friends might not be aware of though, is that one of the most effective methods for staying healthy during the winter months doesn’t come in a white plastic bag.
Researchers from Appalachian State University in North Carolina followed more than a thousand adults for a period of three months, during autumn and winter, tracking the subjects’ respiratory health. A number of different lifestyle characteristics were taken into account, including exercise, stress, sleeping patterns, sex, marital status and diet.
Researchers found that those subjects who participated in at least twenty minutes of cardiovascular exercise per session, five days per week only suffered cold symptoms about fifty percent as often as those who didn’t exercise as much or didn’t exercise at all. In addition to not getting as many colds, researchers also found that the subjects who got the most cardiovascular exercise and who felt the fittest didn’t suffer nearly as much when they did happen to fall prey to the cold virus. When participants of the study who got the most exercise did get sick, their symptoms were about forty percent less severe than their counterparts who didn’t get as much exercise.
According to researchers, each bout of cardiovascular exercise temporarily boosts the activity of immune system cells. The more often you participate in cardiovascular activity, the more often those infection fighting cells will be at the ready to fight off viruses like the common cold.
Unfortunately for all you guys who like to pump iron, the same immune boosting effects don’t seem to come from resistance training. In order to charge up your immune system to fight off nasty viruses and stay healthy while all of your friends are laid up in bed, you’ll need to hit the treadmill, the elliptical trainer or the exercise bike. That’s not to say that you can’t still hit the weight room and work on your arms, back and chest, it just means that you’ll need to stick around for an extra twenty minutes or so to hit some cardio once you’re finished to get those immune boosting effects.
An added bonus to making it through a long winter with as few colds as possible is that all of that extra cardio will do wonders for burning extra fat. For all you guys who’ve been doing crunch after crunch after crunch in an attempt to carve out your six pack with little or no luck, those intense cardio sessions throughout the week could help to melt off those last few stubborn pounds and really help your abs pop.
About Jeff Wilson Jeff Wilson has been involved in some form of sports and athletic training for more than two decades: as an athlete, a trainer and a writer.