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The NOT so Common Cold

Hilton Head Health guests run 2010 Bridge Run

We all know that working out regularly helps build muscle, improves our joints, and burns calories, but did you know that it could keep that all too common cold away this season?

In a recent study by Dr. David Nieman, director of the Human Performance Laboratory at Appalachian State University, he stated that staying physically active is “The most powerful weapon someone has during cold season.” Exercise not only helps us stay fit, but it stimulates the movement of immune cells throughout our body for nearly 3 hours post exercise regimens. Nieman explains that it’s more about the frequency versus duration because the more often we exercise, the more our cells continue to move in our blood stream.

Published in the online British Medical Journal, researchers tracked the respiratory health of 1,000 people, ages 18 all the way to 85, during 12 weeks of the fall and winter months. The two measures were simply how often they exercised and how fit they felt. Interestingly enough, researchers found that those who exercised 5 or more days per week had cold symptoms that lasted 43 – 46% shorter than those who worked out once per week or never. Also, the study found that people who are older and married are less likely to get cold versus those who are young and single. So looks like it’s either get married or start exercising regularly? I’ll let you guys choose.

 The take-away here is that exercise does in fact continue to play a role in all aspects of our life. There’s always a new study coming out with further benefits to keep moving. So with that said, here are 5 winter ready tips for exercising in the cold and to keep your nose from running.

  1. Shoot for 5 days, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.  As we’ve learned, you’ll keep that cold from striking!
  2. Protect your extremities. Make sure to have a hat and gloves when the winter cold hits. I understand we all don’t live on an Island.
  3. Warm up. Our muscles take a lot longer to get loose in the cold so gradual ease into your planned exercise walk, bike ride or run before you pick up the pace.
  4. Continue to hydrate. Water is one of the best things we can put into our systems, but sometimes when we exercise outside it makes us not take notice.
  5. Shorten the outdoor workout. Don’t worry about condensing your winter workout. Make manageable adjustments for the winter seasons or add another session per week.
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