Filed under :Exercise, Health promoting

As the weather changes, from sunny long summer days to shorter gloomy ones, our bodies internally also experience quite a transformation.  As we transition from summer to winter, our bodies acclimatize to the weather.  When this acclimatization happens our immune system is “stressed out” for a period of time and during this time we are more likely to contract a cold or the flu virus (if we come across the “bug”– sick person or an infected object).  The chances of getting a cold or the flu continue to be very likely throughout the whole winter period which is considered to be the cold/flu season.

There are a few things that we can do to protect ourselves from contracting a cold or flu.  We have the ability to strengthen our immune system by: having a healthy diet, a regular exercise regime of a moderate intensity, reduced stress, and getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night.

To most, stress reduction and getting 8 hours of “shut eye” is no surprise – but a regular regime of moderate intensity exercise routine might be new information.  In the last decade, there has been a large focus in research about exercise and strength of the immune system.  The research findings have been very consistent showing that a moderate intensity exercise (30 minute daily physical activity on most days of the week) has an amazing effect on preventing people from getting sick, compared to sedentary people that are twice as likely to contact the cold or the flu.  On the other hand, vigorous physical activity may make you more susceptible to contacting a bug. This is due to its temporary inflammatory effects which leave your immune system weekend for about 24 hours following the exercise time.  For untrained individuals, vigorous activity would be any physical activity that makes you feel extremely sore 24 hours following the activity.  Running a marathon is definitely a vigorous activity – you are more likely to get sick after the race.

However, if you already feel sick you should avoid exercising. For one, because you may be weak, needing to hydrate your body and focus on getting well, and second so that you won’t spread the bug in the gym (by touching the equipment and breathing on other people).

You may already be very familiar with ALL of the benefits of having a regular exercise regime.  Now, you can add strengthening the immune system to your list!