Did you know that regular exercise can help fend off the common cold? As cold season approaches, there’s no better time to commit to an exercise program.
Research shows that even moderate exercise, performed a few times weekly can boost the immune system and help reduce the number of colds you get over a season. Exercise can boost the numbers and aggressiveness of certain immune cells by 50% to 300%. One study showed that 65-year-olds who exercised regularly had T-cell (a type of white blood cell) counts comparable to those of people in their 30s. When you exercise regularly, you will enhance your body’s ability to fight off colds before they strike.
So, what if you already have a cold? Conventional wisdom typically encourages you to rest until you feel better. But, exercise boosts your immune function. It is actually okay – even beneficial – to exercise with a cold.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t recommend bringing your cold germs into Yoga class. Nothing kills my transcendent Warrior Pose quite like the thick mucus-suckling of someone else’s post nasal drip. But while common courtesy will steer you clear of the gym, don’t be afraid to go out for a light walk or bike ride. You may actually get better faster.
One word of warning: Just because moderate exercise can boost your immune system, does not mean that excessive exercise will make you impervious to any sort of viral or bacterial attack. In fact, too much exercise can actually have adverse effects on immune function. So, stick to a reasonable workout regimen. Ask a DHAC exercise physiologist for advice.
Exercise… it may be the best thing for the common cold since Mom’s chicken noodle soup.