It Starts with a Square

Is Exercise the Cure?

BY Regan Hewitt

We all know its coming… cold and flu season in the South takes us all by storm and it seems like its getting worse as time goes on! Collierville is no stranger to urgent care visits, sinus shots, antibiotics, and the like. As a health and fitness professional, it makes me question if there’s a better way. Do we really NEED all those medicines, and shots, and chemicals… and copays?!

If you want to protect yourself from colds and flu, regular exercise may be the ultimate immunity-booster. Studies have shown* that moderate aerobic exercise —around 30 to 45 minutes a day — can more than halve your risk for respiratory infections and other common winter maladies.

It seems like the old adage is right…“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Being consistently active, well-rested, and fueling your body with the proper nutrients really can mean the difference in time off work, doctor visits, and just feeling plain miserable. And more great news: workouts don’t have to be extremely intense or time consuming. There’s even some evidence that very intense exercise—running a marathon, say—”can briefly suppress your immune function” says Dr. Bruce Barrett, a Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “In general, exercising is a great way to shield yourself from illness,” he says.

Collierville resident Debbi Scruggs says she started working out at PT Squared for that exact reason. “When I started [going to the gym] in November 2015, it was because of a desire and need to feel better and become healthier overall. I saw pleasant results with weight loss and how I felt and literally became dedicated to improving my overall health through nutrition and exercise. I can count on one hand how many sessions I’ve missed due to illness.” 

Other experts agree. “Your immune system needs activity to do its job better,” says David Nieman, a Professor and Director of the Human Performance Lab at Appalachian State University. “Every time you exercise, you increase the circulation of important immune cells,” says Nieman. But once you’ve caught a bug and are feeling crummy, the story changes. “Exercising is great for prevention, but it can be lousy for therapy,” according to Nieman. I often encourage our members to switch to some active recovery like Yin Yoga if they’re up to it, or scheduling a session in our infrared sauna with some eucalyptus oil as a great way to clear out drainage and congestion. 

“Our bodies are extremely capable of being strong and warding off illness if we take the proper measures to care for it consistently,” remarks Nieman. Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally is all part of self-care. Sickness is our body’s way of reminding us of this. Nieman recommends, “Once your fever has subsided, wait a full week before easing yourself back into exercise. Start with long walks, and progress to moderate workouts. By the end of the second week post-fever, if you’re feeling good, you can return to your usual training. If you have any muscle aches or weakness, you want those to be gone before you try vigorous exercise. You may feel like you can push through it to feel better, but this is wrong.”

Like a broken arm or sprained ankle, your flu-weakened body needs time and rest to fully heal before it can stand up to the rigors of exercise. So if you aren’t already, get ahead of the flu season and start taking care of yourself now!


Krista Parks, Owner

PT Squared Fitness & Wellness

July/August 2020 Tour Collierville Magazine