How to boost your immune system while training during winter


1. Dress the part

“There’s no such thing such as bad weather, only bad clothing,” fitness fanatics say. And they have a point. If you are going to train throughout winter, whether it’s cycling or road running, it’s important to keep warm and avoid getting sick. Invest in proper long-sleeved dry-fit tops or waterproof jackets, and cover your ears and mouth with a buff to avoid inhaling the cold winter air.

2. Wash your hands more than ever

Whether you are at the gym or at the office, you will be exposed to germs on shared surfaces. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to wash your hands regularly and properly. Avoid spreading germs yourself by always sneezing and coughing into the crook of your elbow.

3. Sleep more

Those cold winter nights give us an excuse to hit the hay earlier. But more sleep will also strengthen your immune system and allow for muscle recovery during a rigorous training cycle.

4. Get a flu vaccination

If you haven’t done so already, and you’ve avoided the flu for now, is it too late for a flu vaccination? According to experts, it takes 10 days for the vaccine to kick in. There is therefore still time and the shot may offer some more protection against flu.

5. Eat healthily

This is easier said than done, especially during winter when all you crave is warm comfort food. Add the increased appetite that rigorous exercise may cause to the mix, and your diet could quickly spiral out of control. But a healthy diet full of antioxidants is crucial for protecting your immune system – eat nutritious vegetable soups, curries, or stir fries packed with flavour. Stuck for ideas? These 11 healthy and warming winter recipes from Food24 may be a good start.

6. Clean your devices and your gear

Your smartphone, your laptop, even your fitness watch are riddled with germs. Give them a good wipe with a sanitiser on a regular basis. Let any wet gear, shoes and clothes dry properly to avoid bacteria from gaining a foothold.

7. Stay hydrated

Just because you don’t feel as sweaty in winter as in summer doesn’t mean you're not getting dehydrated during a long workout session. More layers means you're still sweating, even though you're may not feel it. Proper hydration is key for the body to function optimally. Drier air in some regions can also spur on dehydration without one realising it, and can cause you to feel sluggish and run down. Boost your immune system by drinking enough fluids during the day. If the thought of cold water makes you shiver, keep your water at room temperature, or drink herbal teas or hot water infused with lemon and ginger.

Image credit: iStock

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