Exercise, The Cold & Winter Viruses
Last updated: 3.58pm, Thursday 1st December 2022
Have you had your flu jag yet? It is that time of the year when your GP surgery will be contacting you to get your Influenza vaccination if you are in one of the most at risk groups. In recent years the groups of patients eligible for flu vaccination has expanded with all older patients and those with chronic disease such as asthma and diabetes invited to get the jag. Remember it offers protection only against the influenza virus not every snuffle and cough which are so prevalent over the winter months, and the jag does not give you the flu as the virus contained in the jag is inactive.
So with the coughs and colds season upon us it was of particular interest to see the results of a study which looked at the risk of catching the cold virus in those who are active compared to the inactive members of the population. The study of 1,000 people found that staying active nearly halved the chances of catching one of the cold viruses and that the infection was less severe in those who exercise who caught a cold. In general most adults in the UK suffer from 2-5 colds each year.
The researchers asked the participants in the study to record their activity levels and any coughs or sniffles they had over a 3 month period during the autumn and winter, when the viruses are most prevalent. The results indicated that being older, male and married and those who had a healthy diet (especially eating plenty of fruit) resulted in fewer infections. But most striking was the near 50% reduction in those who were active compared to the inactive members of the study with not only the frequency reduced but the severity as measured by days of symptoms.
(IMAGE CREDIT: https://www.trendhunter.com/trends/fruit-for-health)
So how can this be? It has long been suggested that being active stimulates our immune system with a rise in the cells in our blood which fight off the virus particles as they enter our body, usually via the nose and mouth. Though this effect is temporary it explains why those who are regularly active derive the greatest benefit as they maintain their exercise over most days of the week.
IMAGE CREDIT: https://www.eatthis.com/10-minute-workout
Flu jags and being active both contribute to maintain good health during the winter months. But what should we do if we catch one of these viral illnesses? Most viral respiratory infections are self-limiting, last a few days and may result in a fever, runny nose and a cough. Exercising during any febrile illness is not recommended so a few days rest, some Paracetamol, hot drinks etc is best practice. Stay off work to reduce the risk to workmates until you feel better. Don’t return to activity until the fever has resolved and you feel back to normal with your usual energy level – if in doubt wait another day or two until you really are over the illness and return to activity gradually over the next week or so.
We are all now aware of the benefits of keeping active. While it is even harder in those cold, wet winter nights to get out and about, there are many ways to keep fit and the key is to choose something which you enjoy and will keep going. Avoiding or reducing the misery of the cold is just another good reason to keep active.
IMAGE RIGHTS: www.today.com
If you're unsure how fit and healthy you are or if you want to see if you're able to train and look after yourself this winter, at Hampden Sports Clinic we offer a complete range of Health and Fitness tests which are individualised to match your needs. For more info please visit the Health & Fitness pages on our website...