Niagara Gazette

January 20, 2013

FIT FOR LIFE: Try these ideas to keep the common cold at bay

Chris Tybor
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — If I hear one more person complain that this is the time of year for colds, flu and sickness, I’ll make them attempt to replicate Wallendas’ epic walk, untethered!

The truth is, the flu doesn’t keep a calendar. It is unaware that the Mayans were wrong and we are indeed, still alive, just waiting to be infected.

The fact of the matter is we’re constantly being attacked by pathogens, along with coming in contact with people who forgot its proper etiquette to cover their nose or mouth when they sneeze or cough. So other than avoiding people altogether, what can we do?

Manage Our Stress -

Back in the caveman days, we only had to worry about finding lunch or becoming lunch. Life today presents many additional stressors, such as: your boss, your spouse, scoring Justin Bieber tickets, worrying if global warming is real or not. Our body is not designed to handle long bouts of stress. It raises our cortisol levels, prolong elevated cortisol, which will eventually weaken our immune system ... and then – PRESTO! “Flu Season” has one more hit than Taylor Swift.

Don’t let the stress take you over! Active recovery and a good workout can keep you healthy. After a good sweat, you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll also be satisfied that you “put in work.” So, remember the old adage, an ounce of prevention ... and try these suggestions to stay healthy.

The Importance of Sleep

So, how do we maximize our ability to sleep?

I know you are hoping for me to suggest some ancient Brazilian bonsai tree leave juice tonic to help you de-stress, but just as important as any fitness regime or psychological advice is simply getting good sleep. Sleep is a very powerful tool for combating “cold and flu season.” Research has shown that reduced sleep weakens the immune system. Don’t believe it? Than why is sleep deprivation used as an interrogation tactic? Try staying awake for more than 24 hours straight and let me know how you feel. Getting good, restful nights of sleep is a great way to battle stress and low energy.

Tips for restful sleep: Turn off the television, cell phones and your entire collection of Apple merchandise approximately 60-90 minutes before bed. This will accomplish two things – it will allow you to relax and de-stress and secondly, today’s technology (most cell phones, iPods, Kindles, etc.) produce more artificial light than in years past … thus, keeping your eyelids open and making you stay up longer into the night when you know your alarm clock is about to ring just a few short hours away.

What do I do

if I am sick?

Clients are always asking if they should train when sick. I usually take a couple things into consideration before I give my suggestion.

If the client rarely misses gym time, works hard and can “afford” a day off, I’m more inclined to comply and give them the benefit of the doubt. I recently had one client (Sue) who has been absolutely killing it, losing 50 pounds in less than 6 months. She always works hard, her nutrition is on point and she is, overall, a real pleasure to have as a client. She showed up to our Monday training session and just didn’t have it. Flat out looked worse than the Buffalo Bills offense in the fourth quarter of most games this season! I realized nothing we would do could be productive and possibly risk injury. I stopped the session about five minutes in and sent her home. She argued and lost. I also told her to take Wednesday off. She argued and lost, again. To me, it made sense and I was satisfied with my decision, whether she was or not.

You have to listen to your body, or if you’re paying a professional coach, listen to them. She resumed light cardio on Saturday and we went back to our training routine the following Monday. She had a great weigh-in. You are not smarter than your body, trust me.

A good rule of thumb is — If you have body aches, fever and overall feel like you just went through a tax audit and a root canal, then listen to your body and opt out of training that day.

If you are sick, try these tips to speed recovery:

Take Vitamin D: This is very important for the immune system. It’s been shown to have an immune supportive role, anti-inflammatory actions and anti-microbial effects.

Take Vitamin C: Although there are conflicting studies about Vitamin C’s ability to lessen the severity or shorten the duration of the common cold, for approximately 17 cents a day, I’ll take my chances.

Glutamine: Listed as a conditionally essential amino acid. The body’s heavy hitters in terms of defense (lymphocytes, macrophages, and neutrophils) use glutamine as a fuel source. In short, we could use more of it in our body. Typically touted as a muscle recovery agent, it also helps with immune function. Taking 3-8 grams, two to three times a day, seems to be a common recommendation. I’ve used up to 15 grams, three times a day, with great results. Every individual is different, so listen to your body and your physician.

Hydrogen peroxide: Before I gave in and had sinus surgery, I would suffer from sinus headaches and infections. It seemed every year they would get more frequent and the usual course of antibiotics would kill my stomach. So I looked for alternative ways to alleviate the infection. I can’t remember who to credit for this, but they suggested using peroxide in my ears. I thought it sounded crazy, so of course I tried it. I remember feeling some popping. Apparently that is the peroxide killing bacteria, germs etc. All I know is that it seemed to help me out. I would use a dropper and out 2-4 drops in my ear while laying on my side. I’d wait for 5-10 minutes, flush and repeat process in the other ear.

If you do happen to get sick, try some of the above suggestions and let me know how they worked out for you. Seek advice from your physician about suggested dosages.

Chris Tybor is a personal trainer and the owner of ChrisFit Personal Training. He can be reached at www.chrisfit.net or by calling 818-0078. www.ChrisFit.net