The nights are getting longer and the wind a little chillier. The leaves are changing colors and good NFL teams are hitting their mid-season form.
This my friends, is the beginning of cold season. Many of us in the coming months will be subjected to co-workers or family members sneezing and coughing all over us. Sore throats and the sniffles will eventually take us out of commission at least once by the time spring rolls around.
But what if I told you there were something that could help protect your health naturally without choking down a Vitamin C tablet or some crappy tasting medicine that tastes like bad whisky.
That’s right it’s exercise. Call me biased, call me maybe lol, but there are a few theories floating around the scientific community about the effect of exercise has on your immune system:
- Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other airborne illness.
- Exercise causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells. These antibodies or white blood cells circulate more rapidly, so they could detect illnesses earlier than they might have before.
- The brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection more effectively. (This is similar to what happens when you have a fever.)
Exercise slows down the release of stress-related hormones. Some stress increases the chance of illness. Lower stress hormones may protect against illness.
The research has to catch up but from personal experience I have gone years without getting sick and if I do the symptoms are minor.
Then I got to thinking, what else is exercise good for besides gaining muscle and looking good naked? So here is a little list I put together of some of the things that regular exercise can help with. Before we start regular exercise in all these examples is defined as 3-4 half hour workouts per week of moderately intensity. If you feel the need to throw up you’ve hit the high intensity so just scale back from there. Without further to-do, here is the list:
- Stress reducer: Exercise increases norepinephrine, which helps moderate the brain’s reaction to stress.
- Fights Depression: Exercise releases endorphins that help create the happy feeling.
- Self Confidence: Like the Deion Sanders philosophy “If you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good you’ll play good.”
- Brain Power: Exercise can help slow down the degeneration of brain function as we get older.
- Helps fight anxiety: Feeling anxious? Take a quick 20 min run. The same endorphins that help with depression will help your anxiety.
- You’re so smart: Research shows that aerobic exercise improves your brain retain memories and generate brain cells. Your weed smoking teenage self will thank you for that.
- Helps control addiction: Exercise releases dopamine, which is the same chemical that makes alcoholics crave alcohol. Extra release of dopamine after exercise might help take the edge off if you are trying to kick the sauce.
- Sleeping Pill: After a workout your core body temperature drops back to normal which signals the body it’s time for bed.
- Getting the Creative Juices Flowing: After a workout creativity can be boosted for a few hours. So take a jog, draw a picture.
- Increase Testosterone1: Weightlifting especially elevates testosterone. Working larger muscles like the legs help release more than doing bicep curls. Sorry leg day haters.
- Helps with Type II diabetes1: Type II diabetes is caused by not being able to produce enough insulin to generate a response. Exercise helps increase your insulin sensitivity.
- Lowers Cholesterol1: Exercise can help lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (good cholesterol), which can help against cardiovascular disease.
- Ease arthritis: Exercise can help increase strength and flexibility in arthritic joints.
- Helps with Osteoporosis1: Weight training specifically can help strengthen bones which will slow the process of osteoporosis in women.
Moral of the story, get out, lift some weight and do some cardio if you want to decrease sick days and enhance your health. Working out is more than just looking good naked.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a medical professional nor do I play one on the Internet. This is just research I collected from various sources. What I say in this post is not intended to prevent or cure any disease or illness.
1NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training.