There's an interesting relationship between exercise and illness. Generally, exercise is good for the immune system. People who don't exercise or exercise very little are sick more often, and stay sicker longer than exercisers. Moderate exercisers have fewer infections such as colds, flu and stomach bugs. However, people who exercise more than 8-10 hours a week become more prone to illness than even non-exercisers.
Moderate exercise stimulates the immune system, boosting the number and activity of infection-fighting immune cells. But, researchers aren't exactly sure why people who exercise more, experience increased illness. Some reasons include more mental stress, less sleep, increased travel, weight loss and inadequate nutrition that come with an aggressive exercise regimen.
Also, following strenuous exercise athletes enter a period of time during which they are more susceptible to illness; this is referred to as the ‘open window’ and seems to vary from 3 to 72 hours.
People who exercise frequently (more than 8-10 hours a week) need to take additional steps to protect their immune system. Still a growing area of research, there are a few good options you can use to boost immune function.
HOW TO PREVENT ILLNESS
The most important way to boost your immune system is by paying close attention toexercise recovery. More specifically, eating a mixture of carbohydrates and protein (especiallybranched chain amino acids) immediately following exercise has been shown to benefit the immune system.
The amino acidglutaminehas gained a lot of positive research attention for its role in protecting against exercise-induced illness. We mix a bit in with our sports drink during long runs or rides, and also add it to our post-workout smoothies to ensure we get plenty of it.
Oxidation, or the production of free radicals, commonly occurs with more intense exercise and this has been linked to poor immune function. Consuming plenty of antioxidants is important to halt this process. You can add a scoop of eitherGreens Firstto your post-workout recovery drink to stop the production of oxidants, which occurs hours after exercise.
Vitamin Dis very important for the immune system. It plays a vital role in warding off viral infections (which are typically the cause of 90% of sicknesses that we get). You should definitely start supplementing starting in October through the winter months, and even in the summer if don't get much sun.
Our selection includes Pure Encapsulations, Thorne, Mountain Peak, Klean, and our very own natural exercise supplements to help mitigate illness. If you find yourself getting sick more often as your training increases then following some or all of the above recommendations will be important to keep you healthy. Don't get sidelined by a bunch of illnesses if you are training for something big!