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Exercising to beat colds

by Sunday Express
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Mojabeng Dorcas Senekal

Wouldn’t it be nice if running 40 straight minutes on the treadmill cured flu? Or if with just a wish, the mushy disgusting feeling of flu goes away? Okay we are all looking for a safe way to prevent colds, regular exercise may be the ticke; and you don’t have to run a marathon, either. Moderate activity is all you need. Exercise improves your overall fitness, which can help boost your immune system thus the body’s defense against infections. Studies show that “moderate intensity” exercise may cut down the number of colds you get. That type of activity includes things like a 20- to 30-minute walk every day, going to the gym every other day, or biking with your kids a few times a week.

Physical activity increases your heart rate, but so can some cold medicines. So a combo of exercise and decongestants can cause your heart to pump very hard. If you have asthma and a cold, make sure you talk to your doctor before you exercise. It may cause you to cough and wheeze more and make you short of breath. If your cold comes with a fever, exercise could stress your body even more. So wait a few days to get back to your regular exercise program. Also be careful about working out too hard when you have a cold. It can make you feel worse and slow down your recovery not a problem for most of us, but if you’re an exercise freak like me, make sure you take time for rest and recovery after periods of intense training. Your immune system works best when it isn’t stressed. Scientists say athletes who train intensely without building in recovery time are more likely to get colds or flu. When workouts get too strenuous, the number of infection-fighting white blood cells in your body can go down. At the same time, your stress hormone cortisol may go up, which may interfere with the ability of certain immune cells to work right.

Basically, exercising to an extent can help free you from flu. Here are the steps to follow;

Step 1

Evaluate your overall health and symptoms. Your flu may hit you hard at first, including symptoms such as cough, muscle aches, fever and extreme tiredness. After these symptoms subside, you should be healthy enough to finish your recovery through exercise. According to Sports Medicine, if your flu symptoms are strictly confined to your head, it’s safe to exercise.

Step 2

Engage in a brisk walk. Because your body is still recovering from the flu, it’s beneficial to get exercise, along with fresh, clean air. Walking is a low-impact exercise that helps boost your immunity, improve your health and provide an easy way to exercise while you are recovering from the after- effects of the flu

Step 3

My favourite; pedal your way to good health. Riding your bike for small distances and in short intervals will help you get exercise while battling the flu. Try to stick to short distances and easy-to-ride terrain and pathways. When on your bike ride, be sure to fuel up frequently with energy snacks such as nuts, granola bars and fruit. Make sure you replenish lost fluids with water after the ride

Step 4

Stretch your muscles with yoga or Pilates. This low-impact exercise involves stretching and relaxation. Using your muscles helps provide much needed lubrication to your joints which you need to regain strength.

Step 5

Check for symptoms of your flu progressing. It’s important to know when to go back to bed or relax as opposed to exercising and overexerting your body when you’re ill. Sudden chest pain, tightness in the chest, trouble swallowing, vomiting or high fever indicates that the flu may be progressing into a complicated medical condition such as pneumonia.


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