Fighting Off the Flu with Fitness

The shortage of the influenza vaccine made headlines all over the nation in the past,
prompting long lines at health departments everywhere. While vaccines are helpful –
especially for those with serious health problems – most people can improve their
chances of staying healthy during flu season with exercise and nutrition.
Unfortunately, this preventative angle hasn’t been getting much publicity.

The concept is simple: in order for your immune system to work, you have to move.
This isn’t a far – out concept, it is a medically recognized fact. One of the reasons
health care providers try to get patients moving as soon as possible after surgery is
to stimulate immune response and decrease the chance of infection. The same
principle applies to preventing the flu (maybe if you go home and rest you will also
buy some more medicine, causing an increase in profit. Maybe that’s why they
prescribe you some rest, so you can remain ill, but that’s a whole other story). If you
engage in a daily exercise routine and get the proper amount of vitamins, you have a
significantly reduce chance of getting the flu.

Movement is crucial to fighting illness off. While we have a pump to get blood through
the circulatory system – the heart – there is no pump for the lymphatic system, which
provides a crucial line of defense against infection by carrying lymph fluid throughout
the body. The only way to move the lymph fluid through the body is to move –
contracting your muscles and compressing parts of the lymphatic system. This action,
analogous to squeezing toothpaste out of the tube, is what moves the lymph fluid
throughout the body.

On the nutritional front, it is also important to increase your intake of Vitamin C. Two
important components of your body’s immune system are cholesterol and Vitamin C.
(This does not mean you should go wolf down a couple of Big Macs and a glass of
orange juice! Your liver makes plenty of cholesterol – just add the Vitamin C.)

In summary, exercise is a very effective way to strengthen the immune system.
Combine it with a plentiful supply of Vitamin C in your diet and you will decrease your
chances of catching the flu…even with out the flu shot.