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How Keeping Physically Fit Can Prevent You From Catching a Cold

Dec 28, 2010

To avoid catching a cold, exercise! If you have already caught a cold, you will want to rest. However, if your goal is to stay healthy and prevent catching whatever is going around, establish a regular workout routine. Keeping physically fit will reduce your stress, strengthen your immune system and maybe even help you to make healthier food choices.

Research on Exercise and Cold Prevention

Studies show that there is, indeed, a link between exercise and cold prevention. Those who adhere to a regular exercise routine catch colds less often. When they do catch a cold, it is generally milder as compared with those who do not exercise.

In one research study, over 1,000 women and men were observed across a three-month period during cold and flu season. The study looked at many aspects of the individuals’ lives. They measured their stress levels, eating patterns and asked general questions about their lifestyles.

The findings showed that exercising a minimum of five days a week decreased the chance for catching a cold by 46% as compared with those living a sedentary lifestyle. Also, when the active exercisers did catch colds, the number of days they were ill was 41% lower than the sedentary group. They not only suffered for a shorter duration, the severity of their colds was lower.

How to Avoid Catching a Cold

Experts offer the explanation that exercise strengthens the immune system. A strong immune system works actively in attacking viruses. Notably, these benefits are associated with aerobic exercise, which increases your heart rate and improves circulation.

To avoid catching a cold, exercise regularly. Your efforts will be most effective if you engage in aerobic activity at least five times a week. Activities such as running, biking, swimming and hiking will give you these benefits. Be sure to do these or other aerobic activities for a minimum of a half hour each time.

Stress and Illness

When you are under a great deal of stress, your body experiences a rise in cortisol levels, which leads to colds and other illnesses. Additionally, experiencing chronic stress can lead to interrupted sleep patterns and unhealthy food choices. All of these factors can combine to lead to catching a cold.

Exercise increases endorphins. Endorphins are feel-good chemicals which lower your stress and give you a greater sense of well-being. If you suffer from sleeping problems due to stress, exercising regularly will help to relax you and possibly help you to sleep more soundly. Adequate sleep is very important for maintaining health.

For some people, chronic stress leads to emotional eating. This often involves binge eating and consuming junk foods lacking in adequate nutrition. When you exercise regularly, you lower your stress levels, which in turn lowers your need to eat empty calories as a way of easing your worries or anxieties. The increase in feelings of well-being, a stronger immune system and a decrease in binge eating combine to create greater resilience against catching a cold.

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