Keeping Away the Winter Colds
Ogden Nash once defined a family as “a unit composed not only of children, but of men, women, an occasional animal and the common cold.” It’s true that at all the fun family gatherings and parties with friends, more can be passed around than just plates of food. It’s the season for sniffles, sneezes, sore throats and stuffy noses. But it isn’t any fun to just stay home and celebrate the holidays alone and germ-free. The solution? Your immune system can get a boost if you are a moderate exerciser most days of the week. David C. Nieman*, says that multiple studies have shown a 25- to 50-percent decrease in sick time for active people completing at least 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
- Regular exercise, it appears, may help rid the lungs of airborne bacteria and viruses linked to common upper respiratory infections. Exercise also helps cleanse the body of certain carcinogens and waste products through urine and sweat.
- Exercise brings about an increase in blood flow which helps to quickly circulate antibodies and white blood cells needed in fighting off infections—giving the body an “early warning system” to help fight off potentially damaging germs. After exercise ends, the immune system generally returns to normal within a few hours, but consistent, regular exercise seems to make these changes a bit more lasting.
- Exercise increase the body’s core temperature, and may aid in inhibiting the growth of bacteria, allowing the body to fight infection more effectively.
- Lastly, moderate exercise has been shown to reduce the secretion of stress-related hormones which are believed to contribute to the onset of illnesses such as the cold or flu.
As we are coming into the wintry weather in the northern part of the country, it can get difficult to get out outside and get on the bike. Bundled up properly, you can still enjoy a bike ride (more on winter riding in an upcoming article) and many cyclists do take their bikes inside to put on a trainer or hit the spin bikes at the gym for their exercise fix. Either way, stay healthy by keeping up with your exercise regimen!
(*Dr. David Nieman, fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and Director of the Human Performance Lab at Appalachian State University.)