Monday, September 28, 2009

Running away from the sickies.

I am very happy to report that the illness that settled in with Owen and Conal did not visit me. And for that, my friends, I credit the run above all else.

Take a look at this article from the NIH that explains the positive relationship between exercise and immunity. It's pretty interesting and something that I've felt for a long time. I remember reading something (either his book or an article) by Benjamin Cheever where he stated that he believes that running keeps him healthy because it "boils the blood."

It sounds weird but it's similar to one of the theories from the NIH study on why exercise helps you ward of simple bacterial and viral infections. The NIH researchers theorize that "the temporary rise in body temperature may inhibit bacterial growth, allowing the body to fight the infection more effectively. (This is similar to what happens when the body has a fever.)" The other theories for how exercise boosts your immunity include (all taken from the NIH site):

  • Physical activity may help by flushing bacteria out from the lungs (thus decreasing the chance of a cold, flu, or other airborne illness) and may flush out cancer-causing cells (carcinogens) by increasing output of wastes, such as urine and sweat.
  • Exercise sends antibodies and white blood cells (the body's defense cells) through the body at a quicker rate. As these antibodies or white blood cells circulate more rapidly, they could detect illnesses earlier than they might normally. The increased rate of circulating blood may also trigger the release of hormones that "warn" immune cells of intruding bacteria or viruses. . .
  • Exercise slows down the release of stress-related hormones. Stress increases the chance of illness, so physical activity could reverse this factor.
I'm a believer!

Whether it's the rise in body temperature, the flushing out of the lungs, the increased antibodies and white blood cells or the reduction in stress-related hormones, running does the trick.

Here's my proof. Owen's been sidelined by an injury recently so he hasn't been able to work out much. He was hit hardest by the illness. Conal, on the other hand, is a pretty active little guy. But, being a toddler, he's germy. So, while he caught whatever Owen had it only lasted a day and it seems that his fever burned it away. Boiled the blood.

I, on the other hand (and knock on wood . . . ) didn't get sick. I'm a runner. I'm not an over-the-top runner, though, just a regular ol', regular ol' runner. And that it what I believe has protected me: Running. Surrounded by Owen's and Conal's germs, I escaped via the run.

Thank you, running. Thank you very much! Now, please, can you keep me healthy for the rest of the year? Great!

Please don't think I'm a nut job -- like I said in my last post, I'm taking in lots of vitamin C and D, and washing my hands, too. Both of those things may have a little to do with not getting sick, I know. But, really, can you blame me for wanting to credit running? And would I be wrong? I doubt it!

As a result of not getting sick, I had two great runs this weekend. On Saturday I went for a 5-mile fartlek run. On Sunday, after a night of mojitos and laughs with friends, I went for a 7-miler. It was hilly but I felt so strong! It was really a great way to end the week.

Happy Monday, everyone!

~ Felice

14 comments:

Sarah Jane said...

Hear! Hear! I feel like I've been fighting off my 2-yr old's cold for 2 weeks now....but never seem to catch it full-on. Hurray for running (and some serious doses of Emergen-C)!!!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

glad you've had some good runs and have escaped the germies so far! Yes, running helps me with my stress levels, which, if it'll keep away seizures, i guess i'll keep running! LOL

I Run for Fun said...

Yay on warding off illnesses. One more reason why we should keep running!

Quix said...

I totally think you have a point. Ever since I've started working out regularly, I've spent WAY less time sick each year. I always make sure to tone down the exercise when I'm starting to feel a little icky, but unless I am full-on sick, I try to do *something*. Good luck on staying healthy the rest of the year, I'm crossing my fingers for the both of us!

Mel -Tall Mom on the Run said...

I am a firm believer that keeping moving helps ward off the sickies. We are FINALLY all better in my house.. Thank goodness. Yippee for good running weekends.

lindsay said...

i think there is an extent to where you can workout too much and run yourself down... mostly if you are out in the winter sweating a lot (bringing on cold chills) or after taxing your body in a marathon.

but yes, in general exercise definitely does a body good! i don't know about the stress levels though... i don't think i benefit in that department from running! lol :)

The Happy Runner said...

Lindsay -- I totally agree. Too much wears you down. I've heard about many marathoners who get sick and I caught a cold after I ran mine. But I believe that the moderate exercise (which is about all I do!!) really helps.

Heather said...

Glad you made it through without getting sick!

Marlene said...

I'm definitely a believer. I VERY rarely get sick since I've been running. I don't think I've even had a cold for a year.

Yay for staying healthy!

RunToTheFinish said...

100% believer in exercise and nutrition keeping us free from all those thigns going around!

Denise said...

If you're a nut case, so am I. I totally agree with you!

Diana said...

I had no idea that exercise would do that. Reason like 3 or 4 out of 1324 to do it :)

I'll knock on wood for you so that you don't jinx yourself!

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

way to outrun the germs!

Terri said...

I think you have a point. When I have gotten worn down, it's because I've let stress get to me, and then I've also not been running enough. I do think it helps to keep that blood pumping through the veins. It's also a great mood lifter!

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