First of all, one of the best ways to prevent getting colds this season is a regular, moderate exercise regime. Findings show that exercise helps your immune system fight simple infections such as colds and flu. With regular exercise, the number and aggressiveness of certain immune cells increase by as much as 50% to 300%. However, many have questioned what about exercising when you have a cold? Is it safe?
EXERCISING WITH A COLD: Because exercise may help to boost immune function, it’s usually safe to exercise with a cold as long as you listen to your body. Sometimes cold medications such as decongestants can increase your heart rate…the combination of exercise and decongestants can cause your heart to pump very hard and you may find yourself becoming short of breath. Also, the drying properties of antihistamines can cause you to dehydrate at a much faster rate, if you plan on exercising while taking these medications, be sure to drink plenty of fluids before, during and after.
ASTHMA: If you have asthma, make sure you talk with your doctor before exercising with a cold. If your asthma symptoms are worse with a cold, you’ll need to use caution. You may have increased respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
FEVER: If you have a fever with a cold, exercise may stress your body even more and would not be the best thing to do. Wait a few days to get back to your regular exercise regimen. Working out too hard with a cold could stress your body, causing you to feel worse and may even hinder your recovery. So again, listen to your body.
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH: For an average person, “too much” exercise isn’t usually a problem but if you’re trying to reduce the number of colds, make sure you take time for rest and recovery after periods of intensive training. Your immune system fights most effectively when it isn’t stressed. Though moderate exercise increases immunity, research also notes that athletes who train rigorously without proper rest and recovery are more susceptible to infections like colds or flu. Too much exercise without enough rest may actually harm your immune system.
WHEN TO CONTACT A DOCTOR: If you exercise with a cold and have increased chest tightness or pressure, trouble breathing or excessive shortness of breath, light-headedness, dizziness or difficulty with balance stop immediately and contact your doctor.
Finally, if you find yourself with a cold or the flu this season, whether you exercise or not, enjoy this Healthy and Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup recipe to help you fuel up and feel better.
Healthy and Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup
- 2 TB olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 5 carrots, sliced
- 3 ribs celery, sliced
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme and/or parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 quart reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 4 cups water
- 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cooked and shredded
- 8 oz wide egg noodles
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Heat oil in 4 quart pot over medium heat
- Add onion, carrots, celery, thyme/parsley and bay leaf
- Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened but not browned, about 5 minutes
- Stir in broth and 4 cups water – Bring to a boil.
- Stir in noodles and shredded cooked chicken and simmer until noodles are tender, about 7 minutes.
- Discard bay leaf and season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
NUTRITION (per cup) 135 calories, 13g pro, 12 g carb, 1g fiber, 3.5 g fat, .5g sat fat, 285 mg sodium
(Makes about 15 cups)
* To freeze, chill soup completely, place in container with lid and freeze up to 3 months