Exercise can help prevent the Flu

Keeping fit really can help prevent you contracting the flu this winter. People who exercise regularly are less likely to get colds & flu’s. A study of 1000 people, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that those who exercised 5 or more days/week reduced their number of sick days by 43%. Also the more active people were ill for fewer days, with the fittest having 46% fewer days with colds.

Colds & flu are caused by seasonal viruses, not temperature changes although they are more prevalent in winter months. These cold viruses can be passed from person to person by direct contact or touching contaminated surfaces. The old wives tales of walking in foreststaying out of the cold weather to prevent catching a chill can actually be increasing your risk of getting sick as most viruses are transferred in our heated indoor areas, and re-circulated air such as on public transport or in offices & airplanes.

How does exercise help?

Studies have shown positive increases in immune system markers following moderate exercise sessions. Exercise is shown to reduce stress hormones, which inhibit some immune functions. Exercise also improves your mood, increases metabolism, & improves circulation. Regular exercise also improves your quality of sleep, which is important for normal repair and regeneration. Prolonged intense exercise (over 2hrs) such as marathon running has been shown to reduce immunity temporarily however regular moderate exercise is very positive, as we all know!

How can I protect myself from getting sick?

To help prevent colds & flus maintain healthy lifestyle factors such as;

  • Eat a balanced diet with a variety of fresh foods
  • Keep life stress to minimum
  • Ensure you get enough sleep
  • Limit alcohol intake


Is it okay to exercise when I’m sick?

Exercise can help prevent illness but when you’re already sick it can exacerbate symptoms. Common sense needs to be followed with exercise during sickness, Fruit citrushowever a general rule is that if the symptoms are above the neck (such as running nose & sinus congestion) you are okay to exercise, but if the symptoms are below the neck it’s better to rest & recover. If you’re unsure of your energy levels just go for a light walk instead so you still gain the exercise benefits without running yourself down with a moderate or intense exercise session. Also don’t exercise when you’re suffering from fever, muscle aches or are abnormally fatigued. These are definite signs you need rest. Unfortunately many people try to ‘soldier on’ when they are sick and increase the duration & severity of the flu, as well as put co-workers & others at increased risk. If you’re too sick to go to work then you’re most likely too sick to train (& vice versa!).

For more general health & fitness advice contact us at info@outfithealth.com.au

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