Once again the dreaded cold and flu season is among us in full force. It seems like no matter where you go there is someone coughing or sneezing. And while your first inclination is to stock up on vitamin C, you may be better off going for a jog instead.
Researchers recently found that a daily dose of exercise may help keep you healthy. When 1,000 volunteers were asked to log their daily exercise activities and instances of illness throughout the cold and flu season, those who exercised regularly experienced fewer colds over the three-month period.
But before you think one or two sweat sessions will keep the germs at bay, think again. Scientists found that in order for your body to build immunity, you need to exercise consistently. Of the volunteers in the study, those who strapped on their sneakers five days a week experienced 40 percent fewer illnesses or symptoms compared with those who only logged one day of exercise weekly.
Another study found similar results when examining the occurrences of upper respiratory infections in adults. Researchers determined that individuals who exercised consistently experienced fewer infections than those who didn’t.
Researchers aren’t entirely clear why exercisers enjoy better health, but one theory is that increased blood flow allows white blood cells and antibodies to circulate throughout the body more quickly and efficiently. Because of their rapid movement, they are more apt to find and fight infection quicker. And the rise in body temperature that you experience during a good sweat session may help kill off certain germs before they have a chance to attack.
Another theory is that the body eliminates bacteria, germs and other toxins via sweat and saliva during exercise. This is just another reason why you want to sanitize gym equipment in a fitness center before and after you use it.
Along with helping kill off cold and flu germs, exercise is often the stepping stone to other immunity-boosting benefits such as better sleeping habits and stress relief. People who exercise on a routine basis often log more sleep or experience a better quality of sleep. And exercise of any kind will help reduce stress, which can hit the immune system hard.
So the next time you find yourself in a room full of germy friends, strap on your sneakers and go for a run!
-The Alternative Daily