Thursday, April 02, 2009
So suggests a new document from the American College of Sports Medicine.
Much like during the fall, spring is often a time when it seems as though everyone around you is suffering from a cold or flu. Apparently, the common cold is the most often occurring health problem in the world.
The average adult has approximately 2-3 colds per year, while children can have up to 7 per year. This frequent illness has been estimated to result in $2.5 billion lost in work, school days and medical costs in the US alone.
Despite your mother’s wise advice, a cold does not appear to be caused by cold or damp weather conditions, but rather is passed from person to person via the air (i.e. sneezing).
The new ACSM report suggests that individuals who are consistently active have a reduced risk of catching a cold.
Specifically, the report suggests that the majority of recreational runners (60%+) report a reduction in the occurrence of common colds since initiation of training, while almost all (90%) of experienced runners report that they “rarely get sick.”
More rigorous studies which randomized individuals to either an exercise intervention or control have shown similar results with those individuals in the exercise group experiencing half the incidence of colds as those in the control group which maintained inactivity throughout the study.
However, all of the above benefits of physical activity hold only for moderate intensity exercise, as it is also true that post a prolonged and exhaustive exercise bout (i.e. marathon) immune function is depressed, thus making one more susceptible to infection.
So, rather than chewing vitamin C tablets, inhaling hot steam, or popping back some Echinacea, go for a nice brisk 30 min walk on most days of the week to help protect yourself from all the cold-ridden individuals at your work, school, home, etc.
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