If you’re a shift worker that is prone to catching anything and everything that goes around – don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone. Given the fact that lowering your stress levels and getting 7-8 hours sleep a night helps decrease your chances of catching colds – the odds are certainly against us!
So what are some simple things that you can do, that will help you to stay healthy and stop cold and flu bugs in their tracks?
Well to begin with, research shows a direct link between regular physical activity and improved immune function. This is largely due to the fact that when you exercise, immune cells circulate more quickly throughout your body and are more powerful in destroying viruses and bacteria.
In fact a study at the University of South Carolina in the US, looked at the relationship between levels of activity and the risk of catching a cold, and found that those who participated in moderate to high-intensity exercise four times a week caught 20 to 30 per cent fewer colds than those who exercised less or not at all.
Of course, moderation is the key. If you are sick then you need to take it easy and rest because you need to use all of your energy to fight the virus or bacterial infection.
But certainly having a good level of general fitness, particularly cardiovascular fitness, will boost your immune system and protect you from the nasties, particularly the cold and flu bugs!
However like with anything – it’s certainly not a guarantee.
And on the other hand, too much exercise will suppress your immune system with frequent colds being one of the signs of over-training.
So even though you may not have total control over your shift work health – particularly when it comes to your stress levels and the amount of sleep that you’re able to get (especially if you work night shift), just stay focused on the things that you can change – and exercise is certainly one of them.
Now talking of exercise, I’m off to dust off my treadmill and give it a workout right now! 🙂