Can exercise help or hurt during the cold and flu season?
The reality of this flu season is staggering.
The number of cases reported in the 2017/2018 season has now matched 2009’s swine flu pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
As the hard-hitting illness continues to sweep the population, experts say fitness is a resource that can strengthen immunity and empower the body to fight virus and bacteria, helping scores of people avoid catching the nasty virus.
Those same experts also say people who are suffering from the harsher symptoms of the flu and common cold should be listening to their bodies and adjusting their workout routines accordingly.
Increased, regulated activity for many people promotes better sleep and lowered stress, vital components to boosting the body’s ability to deflect various illnesses, including the flu.
Experts recommend at least 30 minutes a day of exercises that raise the heart rate and get the blood flowing, exercises such as walking, running, biking or swimming.
That type and time of cardio helps white blood cells move quicker through the body and do a more efficient job of fighting infections.
Conversely, studies have shown that extreme workouts — especially ones done over long stretches of time — can significantly cut white blood cell counts. Overly strenuous, gratuitous workouts can also raise stress hormones in the body, effectively canceling out the positive nature of being active.
Additionally, people suffering from the flu should be mindful to get plenty of rest and fluids. Rest allows the immune system to work better against an active illness and fluids can help replenish moisture lost due to high temperatures.
Experts warn that those with a fever should skip the workout all together while the body battles the infection. They also say to keep in mind the flu is highly contagious and working out while sick can increase the spread of germs, risking infection to others.
George Mangum, Director of Fitness at Heritage LifeFit says balance is key.
“Intensity training can be a liability to the immune system,” Mangum explains. “As it relates to physical training, put yourself to the test but don’t put yourself at risk.”
If you’re experiencing flu symptoms without a fever, check with your Heritage physician before your next workout.
If you have a fever, head to the Heritage Urgent Care. We treat serious illnesses and complex medical problems with services, technology and expertise very similar to the emergency room. It’s known as “High Acuity” care and you won’t find it anywhere else in the High Desert.
The Mayo Clinic offers 10 effects aerobic exercise has on your health. Read about them here.