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.
In fact, the amount of exercise I was getting was a contributor to my sickness. Poor immune system + marathon training = sickness! (That’s me in the NYC Marathon in 1985).
So, I was interested to read this: 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 occurrence of upper respiratory infections in adults. That was me! Researchers determined that those 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.
There are many other theories, but – without doubt – 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.
Ah, now we get to it – the immune system! But those researchers are still missing the most important question: “what kind of exercise helps vs. hinders immunity?”
Walking or jogging 45 minutes a day 5-6 days a week (or equivalent) will certainly help and not hinder. Running 60+ miles a week in marathon training – that was me – (or equivalent) will make you fit, but not necessary healthy.
I was so Fit but not Healthy that my friends and co-workers called me “the fittest sick guy they knew” or “the sickest fit guy they knew” – I exercised like a fiend, but was ‘sick as a dog’!
What was I (and what are those researchers) missing? The exercise/nutrition connection.
Hard exercise (for me, the best kind) causes free radical damage in our bodies. We need antioxidants to combat those free radicals, and the best antioxidants come from whole food; fruits, vegetables, berries, etc.
By eating those foods, it’s possible to prevent that free radical damage, lower our risk of many diseases, enhance our immune system and reduce the physical effects of aging.
One of the most powerful, proven sources of antioxidants is Juice Plus+ – proven time and time again to significantly reduce free radical damage. I know because my immune system is radically improved compared to my “fittest sick guy” past.