The statistics say that we each suffer between 2 and 5 colds each year. This is enough to significantly interrupt our health and wellbeing! We put in hours exercising and trying to eat healthily, therefore it makes just as much sense to do all that we can to prevent ourselves from getting the common cold and manage one when we do.
Take on the challenge to protect yourself from these little fellasImage: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Can I exercise with a cold?
The answer to this one is a case of common sense – my general rule of thumb is to exercise only if I feel up to it and if there are no negative side effects of doing so (nausea/dizziness etc). This is because moderate exercise can help fight off illness! Within reason, exercise can improve our immune function.
However, studies have also shown that intense bouts of exercise lasting over 90 minutes could have the opposite effect! It is a case of being sensible and listening to your body. You should know when you need to tone it down to let yourself cope with a cold. Another key factor is to determine if you have flu or the common cold as this will affect your tactics in getting better. Flu will usually prevent you from exercising and keep you in bed. Cold symptoms above the neck such as a sore throat or runny nose may not. If I feel a cold coming on I will generally stick to my normal exercise with some cardio and weight lifting but operate at around 60-70% intensity. However, if symptoms persist then I have to be disciplined and cut back to a dose of fresh air only. I usually opt to stay out of the swimming pool too.
I’ve written other pieces about some seriously powerful foods that I like to eat to stay healthy (most recently – blackberries and beetroot), however here is my anti-cold shortlist:
- Pineapple – Great for vitamins C, B1 and B6, and high in bromelain offering anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Sadly not widely grown in the UK, so not the most environmentally friendly option.
- Garlic – Yes it is pungent but its immune boosting properties are too good to overlook. The BBC have reported it as potentially reducing the risk of catching a cold by half. I usually opt for an odourless supplement which contains the key defensive ingredient, allicin.
- Ginger – Another strong flavour but there is a reason why this has been used in Eastern medicine for an eternity! Homemade ginger tea is easy – Boiling water on 2 tablespoons of freshly ground ginger.
- Rosehip – Generally I take this in the form of tea. Chinese medicine has long recognised the benefits of rose hips. Rich in ascorbic acid and Vitamin C.
- Echinacea – Again, available in tea form but I usually take a tablet supplement.
We have become a nation of clean freaks over the past decade. Good or bad… time will tell. I am in favour of general sanitation to keep those germs at bay and believe that prevention is the best cure for the common cold. Hygeine is no big secret but I think sometimes we bring illness upon ourselves but forgetting to do the easy things. Gym equipment is a breeding ground for germs and with so many people not wiping down and using general gym etiquette, we have to take it upon ourselves to stay germ free. You may be the sort of person who carries sanitising hand gel everywhere you go but to be honest this should be available in most gyms now and certainly towels. Many germs are passed from contact, so I just take care not to wipe my eyes and so on when I’m in the gym and give my hands a good scrub when my workout is finished.
So there you have it – a few things to think about and hopefully help you better protect yourself against colds this winter.