Its that time of year. Cold. Snowy. Windy. Wet. You may find yourself with a scratchy throat or runny nose already. Many people spend the entire winter fighting off colds or missing days of work from the flu. What can we do to reduce our risk of ending up sick this season? First, stick to a diet of real whole foods; eat meat, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruit, starch, avoid processed foods and sugar. This will allow your body to get all the vitamins and minerals it needs to keep your immune system running strong. Second, make sure you are getting plenty of sleep (7-9 hours for most people), lack of sleep will be a huge stress on your body and significantly decrease your immune function. Next, keep stress under control. Set a goal to do some type of stress management daily. It could be something as awesome as 30 minutes of yoga and meditation or something simple like 5 min of a meditation podcast or 5 minutes of mindful belly breathing before bed. Uncontrolled stress will make you much more likely to get sick. Even if you think you are an invincible college student or super mom/dad stress will take a toll on your body and you will pay for it. Make sure you are recovering completely from workouts, not allowing yourself to recover from the high intensity work that we do can also compromise your immune system. An extra rest day is ok, especially if you are feeling a bug coming on; definitely take a day off if you are in the middle of a full-blown sickness. If you have a nagging cough or cold and have taken a day or two off already, try knocking your intensity down to about 80% when you come to the gym until you are back to feeling healthy again. Finally, vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, and fish oil are some especially helpful nutrients to the immune system. Daily supplementation is helpful to most people, especially this time of year. Increasing your dose when you feel yourself getting sick is something to consider as well.
Stay warm and healthy this winter!
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