Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Distance running increases risk of catching an infection...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Distance running increases risk of catching an infection...

This item appeared recently in Runners World and it's appropriate considering that the Dublin Marathon is coming up at the end of the month.

Many long-distance runners report developing colds and other upper-respiratory infections in the two weeks following a race, according to various surveys and studies. While 30 to 45 minutes of moderate daily exercise does stimulate the immune system, the rigors of running longer distances temporarily weakens it. During the strain of a hard run, the body churns out the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses immune function in large amounts. " The more intense the run, the higher the cortisol level," says Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., an infectious disease-specialist. "We know it can be high enough to impair the immune system for up to three days following a race or a strenuous workout.". Marathons, in particular, can leave a runner vulnerable.

Their advice is to do the following....

1) Adjust your training so that you do more intense shorter sessions instead of some of those long runs. Instead of a slower run over 1.5 hours, for example, do a series of eight intervals where you're running at 80 to 85 percent of your max for four or five minutes, with two minutes of recovery in between. Also, avoid increasing both intensity and volume at the same time. After upping your mileage, give yourself a two-week buffer before adding a tempo workout. A good prerace taper also helps your immune system recover.

2) Reduce stress. The body recognizes vigorous exercise as a stress factor: Hard workout or bad day at the office, it all looks the same to your internal fight-or-flight response. " The easiest way to start is to focus on one breath: Inhale slowly through your nose, pause, exhale slowly. Aim for 10 breaths, gradually adding time over several days. On your rest days, try going for an evening stroll, taking a tai chi class, or doing yoga. "These kinds of restorative activities are a good complement to an aggressive training schedule,"

3) Lots of sleep. After strenuous workouts, sleep plays a critical role in restoring the body. Research shows that repeated lack of sleep (six hours or less per night) lowers your immunity protection by up to 50 percent

4) Eat a well balanced diet that includes plenty of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich food sources in your daily meals and snacks. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seafood, healthy fats (nuts, seeds, avocados, olive and canola oil), whole soy foods, herbs and spices, and tea, as well as red wine and dark chocolate (both in moderation). During a hard run, drink a carbohydrate beverage. And in the first hour after a workout or race, drink a recovery beverage that has carbohydrates and protein. Carbohydrates slow the release of stress hormones; protein stimulates white blood cell counts, which shield against upper-respiratory problems..

The Critical 72 Hours.........You're most vulnerable to getting sick for up to 72 hours after a race due to elevated cortisol levels. Bascally, avoid anyone with a cold or infection and avoid crowded areas if possible.

And finally.......according to a study in the University of South Carolina, people who exercise have 20% fewer colds than their non-active peers.

I presume they were moderate runners as opposed to Marathon runners! As with all good advice......everything in moderation.

Original article HERE

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