Tamsin Lewis: Immune Health & Training

  • By Dr. Tamsin Lewis
  • Published January 22, 2013

We’ve all been there. Wake up, feel a bit groggy… headache kicks in, nose starts running, muscles ache.  Some people seem to cruise through winter with not  hint of a sniffle, but for most of us keeping on top of our immune health should be a priority this winter if we want to train consistently and get a head start on 2013 race goals.

Mild/moderate exercise boosts the immune system – but anything over 90mins can negatively affect immune system function.

What does immune health mean? Everyday we come in contact with thousands of different viruses and bacteria. Everything we touch – from a hand rail on a bus to a bathroom door handle will be covered in potentially harmful bugs. We touch things, then touch our faces. The bugs get access into bodies through mucosal surfaces – e.g nose cavity & mouth or a break in the skin. Any invading bug will quickly be thwarted in its attempts to gain access by our white blood cells, which capture the bugs and kill them before they can replicate and enter our blood stream (spreading and causing symptoms). We swallow vast numbers of bacteria and pathogens (potential disease causing bugs) everyday, but most die in the saliva or acid environment of the stomach. Some bugs are stronger than others and have evolved ways to evade our immune response, these make us unwell – until our immune system adapts and finds out a way to kill the invader. Vomiting and diarrhoea are the result of a pathogen gaining access into our systems – our body attempts to rid itself of the bug and its toxic products but increasing flow out of the gut.

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