Your Immunity: The Moves That Help & Hurt It
(BlackDoctor.org) — A famous doctor once said, “There’s only one way to treat the common cold — with contempt.” And for good reason. The average adult has two to three respiratory infections each year. That number jumps to six or seven for young children.
Whether or not you get sick with a cold after being exposed to a virus depends on many factors that affect your immune system. Old age, cigarette smoking, mental stress, poor nutrition and lack of sleep have all been associated with impaired immune function and increased risk of infection.
Keeping the immune system in good shape
Can regular exercise help keep your immune system in good shape? Researchers are just now supplying some answers to this new and exciting question. Fitness enthusiasts have frequently reported that they experience less sickness than their sedentary peers. For example, a survey conducted during the ’80s revealed that 61 percent of 700 recreational runners reported fewer colds since they began running, while only 4 percent felt they had experienced more.
Further research has shown that during moderate exercise, several positive changes occur in the immune system. Various immune cells circulate through the body more quickly, and are better able to kill bacteria and viruses. Once the moderate exercise bout is over, the immune system returns to normal within a few hours.
In other words, every time you go for a brisk walk, your immune system receives a boost that should increase your chances of fighting off cold viruses over the long term.
Should you exercise when sick?
Fitness enthusiasts and endurance athletes alike are often uncertain of whether they should exercise or rest when sick. Although more research is needed, most sports medicine experts in this area recommend that if you have symptoms of a common cold with no fever (i.e., symptoms are above the neck), moderate exercise such as walking is probably safe.
Intensive exercise should be postponed until a few days after the symptoms have gone away. However, if there are symptoms or signs of the flu (i.e., fever, extreme tiredness, muscle aches, swollen lymph glands), then at least two weeks should probably be allowed before you resume intensive training.
Staying in shape to exercise
For athletes who are training intensely for competition, the following guidelines can help reduce their odds of getting sick.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. The immune system depends on many vitamins and minerals for optimal function. However, at this time, there is no good data to support supplementation beyond 100 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowances.
- Avoid rapid weight loss. Low-calorie diets, long-term fasting and rapid weight loss have been shown to impair immune function. Losing weight while training heavily is not good for the immune system.
- Obtain adequate sleep. Major sleep disruption (e.g., three hours less than normal) has been linked to immune suppression.
- Avoid overtraining and chronic fatigue. Space vigorous workouts and race events as far apart as possible. Keep “within yourself” and don’t push beyond your ability to recover.
What, Where & How: Your 10-Step Plan To Eating Healthy
There are a lot of healthy foods that can help you lose the weight you want and keep it off. Here are the ten simple healthy eating habits:
1. What to eat – No magic food causes weight loss and no food is inherently fattening. Eat a variety of foods from meat, legumes, dairy, grains, fruits, vegetables and small amount of fat daily.
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Vegetables and fruits are a great source of vitamins and minerals. Carbohydrates in fruits, milk, grains and legumes will give you quick energy for the first 2 hours while protein in milk, meat and legumes will keep you satisfied for 4 hours. The fat in meat and milk as well as fat added to foods will keep you satisfied for 6 hours.
2. Where to eat – Eliminate eating in the car, bus, train, walking, standing or on the phone. Make time to eat meals and snacks by sitting down at a table. People that eat on the go tend to eat more and more of the wrong things. It’s just like the age-old saying, “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”
3. When to eat – Eat breakfast and two other meals each day. People who eat breakfast are less likely to snack in the evening. Eat at least every 4 to 6 hours when awake rather than waiting until your stomach starts growling.
4. How much to eat – Calories count. Choose smaller portion sizes. Forget those super sizes as they are expensive to your waistline.
5. Shopping & eating out – If you don’t buy it or make it, food has a hard time finding its way into your mouth. Shop from a grocery list and after a meal when you are not hungry to limit impulse buying. In restaurants, if you aren’t sure how a food is prepared ask. When your food is served, divide off what you are going to eat and…