Fight your cold
It’s the end of winter and you’re determined not to break your stride in your workout routine. Out of nowhere, you start feeling run down and miserable. Every year, between November and March, flu season hit millions of us hard. Colds and other seasonal illnesses inevitably get the best of us at the most inopportune times, but just because you’re not feeling top-notch doesn’t mean you necessarily have to abandon the gym entirely.
In general, the rule of thumb to go by when assessing whether or not a workout will hurt you is the “neck check.” If your cold symptoms are from the neck up (runny nose, scratchy throat, stuffy head, etc.), it’s probably okay to continue with light to moderate exercise. That said, you’ll want to postpone any vigorous training plans or high intensity workouts until you’re on the mend.
If your cold symptoms are from the neck down, including a cough, diarrhea, fever, chills, etc., lay off entirely until you’ve recovered. Continuing to exercise with these types of symptoms could elongate your illness, make it worse or delay any sort of recovery.
Of course, prevention is the best medicine. Give your immune system all the extra help it can get this winter by following these simple tips:
Wash hands: Where would a to-do list on cold prevention be without this old standby? The fact of the matter is the easiest way to avoid cold transmission is to wash your hands frequently as they harbor millions of bacteria. Hand washing after visiting any public place (gym, store, restaurant, rest room) greatly diminishes the spread of germs.
Use a tissue: When you feel a sneeze or cough coming on, avoid using your hands to cover your mouth. Instead, grab a tissue and throw away immediately. Don’t hang on to it for another use. Bacteria thrive on your hands, and unless you’re in a place where you can wash up immediately, covering your mouth with your bare hands is probably the fastest way to spread it to the next person or object you touch.
Stay hydrated: There is no better way to flush toxins from your body and to keep your system in proper working order than by drinking at least eight glasses of water a day.
What’s more, when dehydrated, our blood becomes more concentrated. Our immune systems depends on water in our blood to help regulate body temperature (important when we have a fever) and keep our healthy cells moving and on the attack of harmful bacteria.
Use your knuckles: Have an itch around your eye or nose? Keep your fingertips off your face and use a knuckle instead. Every square centimeter on each of our fingertips (from clean to dirty) has between 100 and 10,000 bacteria harboring on them. Use a fingertip to itch your face and you’ve just transferred an abundance of invisible germs ready to spread and multiply.
Move your body: Whether it’s for a brisk walk or a heart-pumping run, exercise is a key factor in cold prevention. A study published by Medicine & Science in Sports & Medicine found that moderate exercise (such as 30 to 45 minutes of cardiovascular activity) greatly reduced the onset of upper respiratory infections in healthy adults.
Stop sharing: Whether you’re a habit double-dipper or don’t mind taking a drink from the same glass as your kids or spouse, you may want to think twice. That container of hummus your just dipped your carrot into may not have looked like it was ridden with cold-causing bacteria, but germs grow … and grow fast. More importantly, sharing a glass of water may seem innocent enough, but the bacteria getting passed to your mouth have different intentions.
Wash the washcloth (and sponge): The non-disposable items you use to clean your dishes and counters with harbor millions of bacteria. A majority of the bacteria is from old food particles, but many more have made their way to your kitchen via the sidewalk outside and even the bathroom. Use lots of hot water, bleach or hydrogen peroxide (rinse well) after every use.
The bottom line is – always use common sense. This is especially important over the winter months when the dry, cold weather allow bacteria to fester.
By Traci Danielson Mitchell, Founder DM Nutrition & Fitness