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Jan 7, 2011

Happy New Year……….or is it, given that your entire holiday jam packed “do more” day timer event over load has led you to a New Year’s cold. Just couldn’t say “no” huh. Took on too much did ya? Probably ate erratically; had a bit more sugar than usual; a few more glasses of wine than you should have, and now what? Sniffles, sneezes, can’t taste, don’t want to eat, can’t smell, can’t breathe, can’t sleep. Oh what a New Year it is! Now, I can’t cure the cold you have today, but if you want to avoid one next time listen up, oh you of great cheer.

A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, reminds us that exercise revs up the immune system and can prevent what you are coping with now as you lay watery eyed, tissue in hand. For the study, researchers collected data on 1,002 men and women from ages 18 to 85. Over 12 weeks in the autumn and winter of 2008, the researchers tracked the number of upper respiratory tract infections the participants suffered. The study accounted for a variety of factors, including age, body mass index and education. And after taking those factors into account, the researchers found the most significant factors were perceived fitness; what participant’s thought their fitness level to be, and the amount of exercise the participant got; their actual fitness level.

In the study all the participants reported how much and what kinds of exercise they did weekly, and rated their fitness levels using a 10-point system. They were also quizzed about their lifestyle, dietary patterns and stressful events, all of which can affect the immune system. You hear that? The BIG 3: Lifestyle, Diet, Stress. Manage these 3, be ill less often. Make’s total sense.

Not surprisingly the researchers found that the frequency of colds among people who exercised five or more days a week was up to 46 percent less than those who were largely sedentary -- that is, who exercised only one day or less of the week. In addition, the number of days people suffered cold symptoms was 41 percent lower among those who were physically active on five or more days of the week, compared to the largely sedentary group. The group that felt the fittest also experienced 34 percent fewer days of cold symptoms than those were felt the least fit. Colds also appeared to be less severe for those in better shape. Among those who felt the fittest, the severity of symptoms dropped by 32 percent and by 41 percent among those who exercised most, the researchers note.

Exercise activates the immune system playing a major role in illness prevention. The psychological effects of exercise make a significant contribution as well. Those that “feel better”, and “feel fitter” have a psychological advantage in that they in essence “think there way healthy”. Having an “exercise outlet”, they fend off stress; a major causation of illness, more effectively, and due to their physical and psychological advantages get sick less often, less severely and recover faster. Raise your shot glass of Nyquil in celebration of that good news. Here’s a toast!

Listen, what you feel, what you think, and how you move make a huge difference in illness prevention. Given you have a cold now, I know you probably don’t “think” or “feel” like you “can move”. But, when you recover make a resolution….”been there done that, time to get in shape to prevent THAT”. If you need some motivation to get started call Fitness Together and ask about our New Years promotion. It’ll get that little engine humming again.

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