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Exercise and catching a cold

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It seems that this time of year the cold is a common occurrence.   There are certain factors that increase your risk of getting a cold such as: smoking, stress, poor nutrition and missing sleep.  Can being more physically active reduce the chances that you will get a cold?

Being more physically active will help strengthen your immune system which in turn can help the body fight off a cold.  Recent research studies have shown that when the body is being active that immune cells in our bodies are able to move through the body more quickly. The cells are also better able to fight the bacteria and or viruses in the body!

Interestingly, when the person stops being active the body’s immune cells return to normal fairly quickly.  It seems that we need consistent physically activity to get longer lasting benefits.

On the other hand, when the body is fighting bacteria or virus, too much exercise can have a negative effect.  So if you are starting to not feel well, you should still be active, but do not overtrain, go with a simple easy activity.

If you are not feeling well and have a fever, then you should not exercise and get rest instead.  Wait until all of the symptoms are gone before you return to your usual routine.  You may need up to two weeks to get back to your usual workout.

Reference:  American College of Sports Medicine. Exercise and the Common Cold www.acsm.org 2009.

Source:  Nicole Peritore, HEEL Program Coordinator, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Jane Proctor is Trimble County’s Cooperative Extension agent for family and consumer services.