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Protect Yourself From Colds and Flu

The holiday season is winding down, but we are in the middle of another season – cold season. We will be at risk of getting a cold and its nasty symptoms for another 3 to 4 months. While the millions of dollars spent each year on questionable supplements and potions are not likely effective, there are steps you can take to lower your risk. Washing your hands regularly (and avoiding the candy bowl when leaving restaurants) can reduce your exposure, adequate sleep, eating a healthy diet, and practicing stress management techniques can boost your immunity fight the cold virus when you are exposed to it.

What might surprise you is that the best thing you can do to fight off colds, according to Dr. David Nieman, professor of exercise science at Appalachian State University, is regular brisk walking. Nieman, a world renowned expert on exercise and immunity has done the research to back that claim up. His studies show that those who walk briskly 30 to 45 minutes, 5 days a week and maintain that for 12 week, experience fewer colds, that are less severe and are of shorter duration than average. They also have half as many sick days than average. Interestingly his research also suggests that long bouts (longer that 90 minutes) of high intensity exercise actually can decrease immune function especially in the 72 hours following the exercise session. More is not always better.

Take home message – add reducing the risk of the common cold to the ever growing list of things that regular moderate exercise can do.

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