To prevent catching a cold, get off the couch and go for a brisk walk every day. Studies show that a moderate amount of exercise can strengthen our immune system.
It’s that time of year when everyone seems to be coughing, sneezing, and blowing their noses. Immune systems take a beating during cold and flu season. To keep yours strong and to prevent catching a cold, make sure you get a moderate amount of exercise.
Professor Mike Gleeson of Loughborough University says that different amounts of exercise can significantly increase or decrease your chances of catching an upper respiratory tract infection (URTI).
Viruses are the usual cause of URTIs, (the all-too-familiar nose, throat, and sinus infections) which include the common cold, flu, tonsillitis, and sinusitis. We’re exposed to viruses everywhere we go—at home, school, work, the mall, on public transit.
Whether we get sick or not depends on the strength of our immune system to fight off these infections.
Ways to keep our immune system strong
Keep your immune system healthy by
- eating healthy
- supplementing with vitamin D, fish oils, echinacea, or astragalus
- getting adequate sleep
- reducing stress
- getting a moderate amount of exercise
How much exercise is beneficial?
Couch potatoes, break out the tissues! Lounging around watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy will not build a healthy immune system. You can expect to cough and sneeze your way through two to three colds a year.
Marathon runners and workout fanatics have even higher odds of getting sick. According to Dr. Gleeson, they can expect a two- to six-fold increased risk of catching an URTI.
Moderate exercise should be your mantra
To get a positive immune-boosting effect from exercise, engage in regular moderate exercise, such as a brisk walk every day. That can actually reduce your chances of catching a cold by almost a third!
“Moderate exercise has a positive effect on the immune system. So to keep colds at bay, a brisk daily walk should help— it’s all about finding a happy medium,” says Professor Gleeson.