It’s the middle of winter and you are under attack by a silent enemy that invades your nose, throat and lungs, reducing you to a sneezing, sniffling and aching mess.
Yes, the flu season is here again, ready to strike our bodies and make us feel miserable for days or even weeks.According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, influenza normally peaks in the United States in January and February, spreading like wildfire across the country. Along with the common cold, flu is the most contagious condition this time of year. Unfortunately, it takes more than an apple a day or a bowl of chicken soup to keep these nasty viruses away.
But while we can’t stop the spread of influenza, we can avoid getting sick by strengthening our defenses against the invading viruses. In fact, there are several ways to increase our immunity against the flu. Vaccination is the best protection, but there are other preventive measures you can take in addition to getting the shots. Basically, it’s a matter of boosting your immune system so it can stop viruses before they attack your body. This is where exercise is very effective.
Recent studies showing that exercise creates disease-fighting cells in the immune system, making it more resistant to colds, flu, and illnesses in general. And, these studies have also reported that while brisk activity is recommended, we don't have to work out to the point of exhaustion in order to get the immunity benefits of exercise.
Research proves that even people who work out moderately at least 30 minutes five days a week, increase the number of immune-system cells that circulate in the body and kill viruses and bacteria. These folks have 46 percent fewer colds than those who work out only once a week or not at all. And even if they do get ill, their symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, coughing, and runny nose are much less severe.
The message here is clear: If you work out on a regular basis, your immune system will heal your body quicker, with fewer complications. Sometimes, simplest things really do work best!
There are other good preventive measures besides exercise that protect our health during disease outbreaks. For example, eating vitamin-rich foods, drinking plenty of water, washing our hands frequently, and avoiding crowded public places that are real germ-fests, will also help. It all comes down to common sense, good judgment, and a healthy lifestyle.