Want to Avoid Getting Sick this Winter? Tips for Staying Fit & Helping Your Immune System

Exercise is good for overall health, and that includes your immune system. Exercise contributes to total health and an improved immune system, which is a big benefit during the time of year that typically sees more illness. This time of year, keeping up with your fitness plan – and staying out of the doctor’s office – is a challenge in and of itself! Balance is important: over-do it at the gym and you may actually raise your risk for coming down with something nasty. If you do feel a bit under the weather, should you still try to hit the gym? We have a few tips…

Too much of a good thing: Once again, the idea of moderation rears its head. Exercise can be a tremendous benefit to your physical, mental, and emotional health; however, too much exercise without enough adequate restorative time can leave your body depleted. You can actually knock your immune system down a notch by pushing your body too hard, leaving you vulnerable to catching the next nasty bug making the rounds.

Give yourself a break: Give yourself a healthy schedule that allows for both workout and rest days. Be sure to build days into your plan that are dedicated to total rest, with no workouts planned. Leave late nights behind, too – be sure to get plenty of sleep. Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep a night, especially if they’re physically active. Your rest schedule is a vital part of your training and will help boost your immune system!

When sickness strikes: It’s usually inevitable – no matter how careful you try to be, no matter how diligent you are about hand-washing or healthy eating, you wake up one day with a head full of congestion and a brand new cough. Many active people try to soldier on, and keep up with their training and workout plans – but this can often do more harm than good. Depending on the circumstances, you can stay active through an illness but there are some pretty firm guidelines!

The golden rule: If the symptoms are from the neck up, and you have a low (or no) temperature, you can try a lighter version of your fitness routine. Some people report that cardio activity even makes their symptoms feel a little better! BUT: If the symptoms are from your neck down, include your lungs, body aches, and a higher temperature – forget it! Don’t be a hero, and save that long run, bike ride, swim, lift day, etc for when you’re back on your feet. Pushing it at the gym (or your workout of choice) when your whole body is involved is just asking for bad news. There’s even a rare condition that can affect you with post-illness fatigue if you push through serious illness. It isn’t worth it – rest up and you’ll be back before you know it. The best bet is: if you just don’t feel like it, don’t try. Listen to your body!

While the cold weather continues and you try to dodge germs and escape winter unscathed, keep up with your fitness routine but practice moderation. There is no magic pill: eat well, get plenty of rest, stay fit, don’t over-do it at the gym, and don’t push through illness if you find yourself feeling sick. If you need help with your fitness or are struggling with pain, movement issues, balance problems, or strength deficits, we can help. Our caring and talented team of physical therapists with work directly with you to address your concerns and help you reach your goals. We’re locally owned and have five locations serving central Indiana: Downtown Indianapolis, North Indianapolis, South Indianapolis, Zionsville, and Fishers. Call us today and take charge of your health!

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