PUMPING IRONY: Rest or Recreate?

I skipped the gym last night and stayed home from work today in hopes of thwarting a cold bug that’s had me sniffling and sneezing — though not yet completely miserable — for a couple of days. And, while there’s ample evidence to indicate that exercise can help cure the common cold, older guys like… Read more »

I skipped the gym last night and stayed home from work today in hopes of thwarting a cold bug that’s had me sniffling and sneezing — though not yet completely miserable — for a couple of days. And, while there’s ample evidence to indicate that exercise can help cure the common cold, older guys like myself like to rest rather than recreate when visited by our most familiar virus.

Former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall said it best years ago, when he explained why he liked to report late to training camp: “There’s only so much tread on the tire.” (Of course, this was a guy who made history by running the wrong way with a fumble during a 1964 game against the San Francisco 49ers, so . . . .)

More scholarly sources, however, suggest that Marshall may be right in pacing himself — especially if you’re fighting a cold. Dr. David Nieman, a professor at Appalachian State University, says moderate exercise may boost your immune system, but going too hard when you’re sick could slow your recovery. That’s because the body produces more cortisol and adrenaline during intense workouts, and these hormones tend to suppress your immune system for up to 72 hours after the session.

Not that I need any excuse to take a nap today.

The good news is that this fitness regimen I’m on — as erratic as it sometimes is — should actually keep the cold and flu viruses at bay. Forty minutes of moderate exercise a day (which I’m just going to assume includes walking to work) helps the body produce more macrophages, cells that destroy bacteria (the bad kind, I’m assuming), which, in turn, leads to a stronger immune system.

So, I’m hoping to be back at the gym tomorrow diligently producing macrophages and toning up my newly buff immunity.

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