Tips for stay­ing healthy so you can keep rid­ing

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Stephen Che­ung

Tips for stay­ing healthy so you can keep rid­ing

You’re prob­a­bly into cy­cling be­cause you en­joy be­ing fit and healthy. So why is it that you’re al­ways snif­fling around with a cold, bum­ming a tis­sue off your friends and do­ing Brando in The­god­fa­ther im­per­son­ation with a raspy, sore throat?

The cold facts on im­mu­nity Your blood is the home to many im­mune agents. Among oth­ers, your white blood cells, lym­pho­cytes and nat­u­ral killer cells fight off for­eign sub­stances and germs. They all in­crease in con­cen­tra­tion in your blood with a bit of ex­er­cise.

How­ever, while a lit­tle bit of ex­er­cise and fit­ness is ter­rific for strength­en­ing your im­mune sys­tem, ei­ther too lit­tle or too much both have the ef­fect of weak­en­ing your im­mu­nity and in­creas­ing the risk of con­tract­ing mi­nor in­fec­tions, such as colds and the flu.

The av­er­age cy­clist goes well be­yond what sci­en­tists re­gard as mod­er­ate ex­er­cise and lands squarely in the dan­ger zone of weak­ened im­mu­nity. This is true for acute bouts of heavy ex­er­cise, with nu­mer­ous stud­ies show­ing weak­ened im­mune sys­tems and a greater in­ci­dence of up­per res­pi­ra­tory tract in­fec­tions or other ill­nesses in the week fol­low­ing ul­tra-en­durance ef­forts.

It is also true for chronic train­ing. It doesn’t help that many pro and am­a­teur cy­clists train so much with not enough re­cov­ery that they are chron­i­cally on the edge of over­train­ing. The harder you train, the more you have to take care to avoid get­ting sick. Pre­ven­ta­tive medicine Of course, a greater chance of catch­ing a cold isn’t going to stop you or me from pur­su­ing our pas­sion for this sport. The main thing to do is to take as many pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures as pos­si­ble to keep from get­ting sick. See ‘5 Top Tips for Stay­ing Healthy.’

You’re still sick. Now what? If you take all the pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures pos­si­ble and still end up with an in­fec­tion, do not take it lightly and start mak­ing plans to ad­just your train­ing for at least the week fol­low­ing. I would al­ways err on the side of tak­ing one to two days com­pletely off once you start feel­ing sick.

Re­mem­ber, your body is work­ing hard to fight against the ill­ness al­ready, so let it do its job with­out hav­ing to deal with the ad­di­tional stress of train­ing. You’ll likely be back to full health faster than if your body is multi-task­ing. Some tlc from your sig­nif­i­cant other for a day or two will help, too.

Once you get back on the bike, re­sist the temp­ta­tion to ham­mer out hard in­ter­vals im­me­di­ately to make up for “lost” time. Start with a cou­ple days of easy rid­ing. It can take your body as long as a week to re­cover fully from even a mi­nor cold. Re­mem­ber, it was the overex­er­tion that helped to get you sick in the first place. It’s al­ways bet­ter to be un­der­trained and healthy than trained but sick.

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