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Cold Comfort

Overview

Published: 06/26/2012

by William Roebuck

Sir William Osler, the famous Canadian medical doctor, once quipped, “There’s only one way to treat the common cold

with contempt.” And for good reason. The average adult has two to three respiratory infections each year. That number jumps

 to six or seven for young children. Whether or not you get sick with a cold after being exposed to a virus depends on

many factors that affect your immune system. Age, cigarette smoking, mental stress, poor nutrition and lack of sleep have all

been associated with impaired immune function and increased risk of infection. Research has shown that during moderate

exercise, several positive changes occur in the immune system. Various immune cells circulate through the body more

quickly, and are better able to kill bacteria and viruses. Once the moderate exercise bout is over, the immune system returns

to normal within a few hours. In other words, every time you go for a brisk walk, your immune system receives a boost that

should increase your chances of fighting off cold viruses over the long term. Should you exercise when sick?

 

Fitness enthusiasts are often uncertain of whether they should exercise or rest when sick. Although more research is needed,

most experts recommend that if you have symptoms of a common cold with no fever (i.e., symptoms that are above the

neck), moderate exercise such as walking is probably safe. However, if there are symptoms or signs of the flu (e.g., fever,

extreme tiredness, muscle aches, swollen lymph glands), then at least two weeks should probably be allowed before you

 resume exercising.

 

Staying in shape

 

The following guidelines can help reduce the odds of getting sick.

 

1. Eat a well-balanced diet. The immune system depends on many vitamins and minerals for optimal function.

 

2. Avoid Rapid Weightloss. Low-calorie diets and rapid weight loss have been shown to impair immune function.

 

3. Obtain adequate sleep. Major sleep disruption (e.g., three hours less than normal) has been linked to immune suppression.

 

 

article was provided courtesy the American Council on Exercise

 

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