This time of year when colds and flu are on the rise, we often wonder “should I work out if I am sick?” The average adult has 2-3 respiratory infections each year. That number jumps to six or seven for young children. Research has shown that moderate exercise can improve the immune system response and boost the body’s ability to attack bacteria. Regular, consistent exercise can benefit the immune system health over the long term.
Recent studies have confirmed that moderate exercise that is repeated on a near-daily basis can have a cumulative effect. For example, moderate exercise of 40 minutes per day has proven to cut sick days in half due to colds and sore throats, compared to those who don’t exercise. But what about after you’ve caught a cold, or currently have a sore throat? Should you continue to workout?
Most sports medicine experts in this area recommend that if you have symptoms with no fever (that is, symptoms are above the neck), moderate exercise is safe. So, lace up your shoes, grab your gloves and hit the gym. Intensive exercise should be postponed until a few days after symptoms have gone away. A few good reminders that can reduce the odds of getting sick are: Eat a well-balanced diet, avoid rapid weight loss, get plenty of sleep (getting three hours or less than normal have been linked to immune suppression) and avoid overtraining and chronic fatigue. Have a happy workout!
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