Tips of Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season

Exercise for a Healthy Immunity System. Research supports a link between moderate, regular exercise and a healthy immune system. During moderate exercise, even for 20-30 minutes, immune cells circulate through the body more quickly and are better able to kill bacteria and viruses. After exercise ends, the immune system generally returns to normal within a few hours, but consistent, regular exercise seems to make these changes a bit more long-lasting. Regular exercise is also a great way to combat psychological stress, yet another factor that can impair immunity and lead to an increase of cold and flu infections. A word of caution to marathon runners and triathletes, too much intense exercise can reduce immunity, so make sure to maintain ample rest and recovery days.

Exercise Tips for Cold or Flu.  1) Rest if it's below the neck. If you have symptoms from the neck up—a stuffy nose or sore throat—it's probably just a rhinovirus, which causes the common cold. But when you start to feel achy, or develop a fever, diarrhea, swollen glands, or chest congestion, it's time to lay off the exercise completely. You most likely have the flu or a chest cold.  2) Slow down. You should still take it easy, even if you're just suffering from a runny nose. You may have just taken a medication that dried up your sniffles and you start to feel better. But pushing it too hard can make your illness more severe. Stick with a 45-minute walk. 3) Get back up to speed gradually. The flu can keep you out of the exercise loop for a while, so don't hit the ground running as soon as you feel better. When your fevers gone and the worst of the symptoms are pretty much gone, just take an easy walk and see how you respond. After a symptom-free week of moderate exercise, start easing back into your routine until you're back to where you were before you got sick.

Other Immune Building Tips

Eat Immune Building Foods. Examples include broccoli, sweet potato, green or black tea, spinach, elderberry, garlic, low fat yogurt, wheat germ, grapefruit, cabbage, almonds, watermelon, oysters, acai berry, and button mushroom. Eat plenty of dark green, red, and yellow vegetables and fruits.

Don't Smoke. Statistics show that heavy smokers get more severe colds and more frequent ones. Even being around smoke has a profound negative effect on the immune system. Smoke dries out your nasal passages and paralyzes cilia, the delicate hairs that line the mucous membranes in your nose and lungs, and with their wavy movements, sweep cold and flu viruses out of the nasal passages. Experts contend that one cigarette can paralyze cilia for as long as 30 to 40 minutes.

Cut Alcohol Consumption. Heavy alcohol use suppresses the immune system in a variety of ways. Heavier drinkers are more prone to initial infections as well as secondary complications. Alcohol also dehydrates the body -- it actually causes more fluid loss from your system than it puts in.