It’s true! Regular exercise increases your body’s immune system. Studies show that regular exercise increases the number of white blood cells in your immune system, and that overweight individuals have less immune cells.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to train like crazy everyday, as overtraining causes these white blood cell numbers to drop. (There’s a reason why I have my bootcamp workouts 3x/week).
Now here’s a question for you to ponder: Should you exercise when you are sick?
Well that depends, you will feel better after exercising due to the release of endorphins. Some people even get addicted to this high that exercising provides them, but this will not help rid you of any infection.
Here’s my rules of thumb about exercising when sick. If you have a stuffy nose, cough, sneezing or anything that resembles a head cold, it’s not a big deal. If it’s an ailment below the neck or a full body fever take a seat and rest as exercise will not help you recover. This is a loose rule of thumb, remember I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV, yet…
The difference between a cold and the flu:
A cold is located in the nose and throat and is generally caused by a bacterial infection (you do not need antibiotics for this). Influenza such as H1N1 have a high fever response. Vaccines are used to prevent viral infections.
Has this ever happened to you?
You fell asleep in a cold area and 1 or 2 days later you get a case of the sniffles? This is due to a decrease in your core temperature over the period you are sleeping. See your body is an internal hostile environment to bacteria and a decrease in just a few degrees increases the likelihood that a few pathogens in your body that are normally eliminated can survive and cause your common cold.
How about stress?
When your under large amounts of stress you increase the likelihood of illness, as cortisol levels increase, which makes things less efficient in your body and decreases white blood cells. Believe me there are a lot of sniffles happening in those university exams, with those stressed out students. Did you know the likelihood of illness goes up 300% when stressed?
Are you worried about getting the flu at the gym?
People keep coming to the gym and coughing, and your worried. Here’s your solution…For a few weeks, reduce your training intensity, lower overall stress, work on technique and don’t try make any personal bests. Oh and bring your own waterbottle!!!!
If you decide to get the vaccine, you will be getting a weak dose of the actual virus, so that your body can produce antibodies in response to it- don’t worry you won’t get very sick.