Avoid The Winter Viruses

Avoid The Winter Viruses

Our bodies are amazing! From the moment we are born they start to build a defensive shield to protect us against the onslaught of bacteria.  Our immune system hunts down invaders to the body and eliminates them.  It also protects us by developing anti-bodies and immunity to certain ‘nasties’ preventing us having the same illness again and again.

Building healthy eating and regular exercise into our lifestyles actually boosts our immune function.  Healthy people are ill less often, feel better in themselves, have more energy and are less stressed. However when we run, especially if we’ve run hard, we a leave a window of low immunity open for a while. This can leave us more prone to bugs and illness.   That’s why it’s really important that us runners think about how we can minimise our risk of catching bugs – they play havoc with your running! 

Finishing your run and then not refuelling adequately, going out for a run and then heading straight back into a warm, air conditioned, bacteria laden office with people coughing and spluttering, or not changing your clothes and being cold post-run really doesn’t help ward off the winter lurgy!

Here’s a bundle of immune system boosting ideas!

Make Healthy Eating A Lifestyle Choice

A big key to a healthy immune system is to eat a healthy balanced diet. Stack up with junk and the price could be illness.  Fresh fruit and vegetables, carbohydrate, proteins, and essential fatty acids all play a part in keeping our defences strong and fit for action.  The key vitamins to support your immune system are zinc, iron, copper, selenium, and Vitamins A, B6, C and E.  All of these can be found in sufficient quantities in a well balanced diet. If you are concerned over a lack of any essential vitamins or minerals a ‘top up’ in the form of a supplementis probably for you.

Keep The Carbs

Carbohydrate plays an important role in supporting the immune function. The Atkins diet is not good for fighting the winter lurgy. Trying to loose weight quickly simply adds stress your body.  A steady weight management programme that is based on eating the right amount of the right foods at the right time coupled with a regular, progressive and appropriate exercise routine is the way to go.

Go For Protein

Protein and essential fatty acids are also vital for immune function. Protein is important to help your body recover and re-build your muscles after running.  A lack of protein will mean that your body will not be able to repair itself adequately and you run the risk of getting over tired and run down. Great protein choices are soya, lean cuts of meat, fish, and eggs.

Eat The Essentials

Essential fatty acids such as Omegas, 3s in particular, are good for immunity as they are an essential part of effective functioning of every cell in the body. Healthy cells mean that your body can function at its best. Omega 3s can be found in eggs, oily fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel, linseeds, walnuts and seeds. A small amount of these foods should be present in your diet each day.

Protect With Probiotics

Probiotics are ‘friendly bacteria’. Everyone needs these to survive. They help us to syntheses vitamins and help rid our bodies of harmful bacteria found in the gut, such as viruses, helping stimulate the gut immunity and enhancing our disease resistance. Probiotics can be eaten in foods such as live yoghurt, but it has been found more effective to stimulate the activity of existing healthy bacteria in the gut by eating certain foods such as bananas, asparagus, garlic, wheat, tomatoes and onions.

Stay Clean

Wash your hands regularly. Our hands pass over countless objects in the day that many people have touched, including money, door handles, pens, taps, hand railings, buttons on cash machines, telephones.  The constant contact spreads virus. By washing your hands with soap and warm water you will be reducing your chances of catching whatever lurks!

Don’t Touch

Avoid touching your face. Viruses like to get into your body through your eyes mouth or nose.

If In Doubt Don’t Do It!

If you feel like you are coming down with something and are questioning if you should run that day –DON’T!   Remember the 3D’s; If in DOUBT DON’T DO it!   Exercising when you are ill can only prolong your illness, so rest and allow your body to put all its energy into fighting the illness.

Exercise

That’s right. The running you do is great immune boosting activity. Regular physical activity makes your body stronger and better at warding off bugs and viruses.

Watch That Window

After your run make sure you get warm and dry, rehydrate with plenty of fluids (even if it’s cold outside), and eat something healthy to replace your energy within 30 minutes of finishing your workout.

Dress To Impress

Not others but yourself!  On cold winter days make sure you are wrapped up warm to protect you from the elements.  When you run don’t pack on chunky, heavy clothes. Stick to light, breathable layers that wick moisture away from your skin but stop wind and rain from getting in!

Self Preservation

When you see someone has a cold, cough or the flu steer clear!  That might be tricky when they are your husband, partner, child or the person you sit next to at work yet you can think about strategies to minimise physical contact when they are really ill!

Night Night Sleepy Head

When you are tired your body just can’t catch up and something has to give, and it’s usually your health.  Avoid constantly driving yourself into the ground.  Aim to get enough sleep so that feel rested.  At least once a week try and wake naturally and not to your alarm.

by Liz Yelling

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