Nothing is worse than coming down with the flu. There is the obvious the discomfort of the symptoms. Going to work or running usual errands seems impossible, yet is sometimes necessary. Sickness can temporarily remove us from our social and active lifestyles. This year is supposed to a tough season in terms of the infectious disease. Luckily, I know just how exercise can prevent the flu.
Yes, exercise can prevent the flu. Research found that participating in vigorous exercise for at least 2.5 hours a week (hardly over 20 minutes a day) measurably reduced the risk of the flu. With between 5% and 20% of the American population expected to get the flu this year, if exercise can prevent the flu then there is just one more benefit to add to the myriad reasons to be active.
You have no doubt heard that a health lifestyle leads to a healthy immune system. Here are some ways in which exercise can prevent the flu by strengthening your immune system:
- Exercise produces more antibodies in the bloodstream, which detect threats sooner and are therefore better apt to battle intruding viruses.
- Physical activity flushes bacteria from the lungs, reducing the risk of airborne illnesses – not only the flu, but other ailments like colds.
- Exercise increases the body’s temperature, like a fever, which is an environment more apt to combat infections.
More than this, exercise can prevent the flu in other ways. The more active you are, the more you increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep and staying less anxious. Over-exhaustion and stress foster an environment for illness to easily take over. Good routines for sleep and physical activity help productive dietary habits fall into place. Eating an abundance of fruits and vegetables for optimum vitamin supply is helpful also. Even the endorphins produced lead to a positive mindset – do not underestimate the power of positive thinking. All in all, exercise can prevent the flu in enough ways to make it highly worthwhile this winter.
Disclaimer: it is important to note that if you are experiencing flu symptoms, it is too late. Do not attempt to “sweat it out” – at this point the best approach is as much rest as possible.