I’ve been playing a lot of Angry Birds lately. The objective is to destroy the enemy pigs and their structure by tossing birds at them. One thing I noticed is that sometimes I hit a structure and it doesn’t come down immediately. A few seconds later though, the structure was weakened so much that it comes crashing down.
Why am I telling this story? Last week, my immune system was a real-life version of Angry Birds: I was knocked down and out because I ignored how my body’s defenses had been weakened. (Being sick also gave me a lot of time to play Angry Birds. Hehehe.)
I’d been so eager to get back to my usual training and exercise schedule since my full recovery from my elbow injury, but even as I started teaching my dance aerobics classes at the gym again it was difficult for my body to catch up with the hectic schedule. Add to that the stressful taping days for my Alagang Kapatid segments, and I was definitely stretching myself too thin. So just one day where I got over-tired and was bathed in sweat was enough to tip my immune system over, taking me down for four days! It was an uphill battle to get well; we used a combination of antibiotics, anti-viral medication, and analgesics to help me get back on my feet (quite literally).
Now that I’m better, I still need to ease back into training, and I definitely feel signs of de-training, which means my sports fitness has taken a hit. If I were training for a major race, this would be a disaster.
If only I had done the prep work to bolster my immune system, the flu wouldn’t have been so bad, and I wouldn’t be trying to rebuild my fitness from zero. So here’s what you can do to stay healthy.
- Take a complete multivitamin. Each of the vitamins and minerals contained in that multivitamin contributes toward better body function and stronger immune system. The B complex vitamins in particular enhance immune system function, helping your body to fight off infections.
- Listen to your body. Outwardly we may feel strong, but we don’t always know what’s happening inside our bodies. You may not realize this, but you could already be infected by a cold or flu virus. There’s a period of time between exposure to the virus and manifestation of symptoms (between one to four days). The stronger your immune system is, the longer it takes to experience symptoms and the milder those symptoms are. So if you’re feeling inexplicably lethargic on a training day, your body’s resources may be being diverted to fighting the flu. And if you’re already feeling sick, take it easy; you can always train on another day.
- Rest and recover. Moderate exercise boosts immune system function, so it’s perfectly okay to engage in an hour’s worth of exercise most days of the week. However, intense exercise that lasts about 90 minutes or longer causes the body to release hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that temporarily suppress the immune system for up to three days after the exercise, making endurance athletes like us more susceptible to infection. You need to get adequate sleep on a daily basis. After heavy training days or competition, you need to schedule recovery where you should do only light workouts or none at all.
These are little things, but they are so important in keeping a healthy balance within your body. Bawal magkasakit!