Exercise and How to Avoid Infections
Medical research suggests that a moderate level of exercise can boost the immune system and reduce the amount of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (URTI). People who exercise moderately generally report fewer cases of illness than those who lead sedentary lives. The reason for this is that light or moderate exercise encourages the circulation of protective cells throughout the body faster. These cells attack and kill bacteria, viruses and fungi. Antibodies are produced in the bone marrow, lungs and spleen and have a cleansing effect on foreign invaders. However, getting the balance right with regard to intensity, frequency and duration of fitness workouts is crucial, as over exercising can temporarily suppress the immune system and leave you open to coughs, colds, flu and infections.
Professional athletes, particularly marathon runners and triathletes, report succumbing to URTIs after competition. It appears that the longer and harder you exercise the more likely you are to temporarily impair your immune system and leave yourself open to infection. Researchers generally agree that there is a window of opportunity for infections to strike, depending on your state of immunity at the time, from between three to seventy-two hours, after ninety minutes of vigorous exercise.
Personal Trainer and former Great Britain athlete, Jo Thompson, can speak from personal experience. “ It’s very easy to go from the peak of fitness to suffering from an infection of some kind. Shortly after producing some of my best running performances I have fallen victim to a mild cold or infection. It can be very frustrating, but it has taught me to take some basic precautions following a heavy workout or a long distance race, and I am convinced that following some simple rules can help reduce the chances of contracting an infection.”
Jo’s Top Tips For Reducing the Chance of Infection.
1. Exercise moderately and rest and recuperate after intensive workouts.
2. Use carbohydrate drinks before, during and after exercise.
3. Eat a well-balanced diet to keep vitamin and mineral levels at recommended levels.
4. Wash your hands regularly with warm soapy water and keep to a minimum hand to eye and hand to nose contact.
5. Make sure that you get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation has been linked to lowered immunity.
6. Keep stress down a minimum.