Q: Winter is generally considered cold and flu season. What can I do to help boost my immune system so that I stay healthy and can keep exercising?
Brandon Marsh answers:
A: Your co-workers coughing, germs your kids bring home from school and colder temperatures make for a nasty combination. On top of that, you’re training sessions are long and intense, only further beating down your immune system. I’ve trained through several cold seasons and have learned my lessons (sometimes the hard way) when it comes to staying healthy. Trust me when I say: It doesn’t pay to be a tough guy. Instead, train smart with these words of advice.
Lesson 1: I used to think it was cool or it somehow made my skin thicker to go on a run or bike ride wearing as few clothes as possible when the temperatures were frigid. Now, I make it a point to stay warm during the winter. I layer up so that I’m a little warmer than I think I should be. You’ll likely sweat more, but will also keep your chest warm. Breathing in cold air can lead to coughing or a sore throat pretty quickly. If the wind chill dips below 35 degrees F, consider wearing a ski mask that covers your mouth and nose so you breathe in moist, warm air.
Lesson 2: For years, vitamin C was touted as the top-dog of immune support. More recently, however, research has pointed to vitamin D3 to help maintain a healthy immune system. Luckily, Vitacost keeps us updated on the latest health news, which is why we now take 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily.
Lesson 3: You can’t rely on other people to wash their hands, cover their mouths when they cough or stay out of the office when they’re sick. That’s why I make sure to wash my hands constantly. When we’re traveling or on the go, I keep hand sanitizer on me for a quick clean-up. I don’t usually carry it with me during a workout, but one of the first things I do when I get home is wash my hands.
If you do come down with something, there are a number of over-the-counter cold and flu relief products you can find at the Vitacost Drugstore. It has everything you need — from herbal lozenges to homeopathic formulas — to get healthy and get back to training.