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Masters swimmers more likely to avoid a cold

Official research has confirmed that you – the dedicated, wonderful Masters swimmer – are more likely to avoid a cold than your lazy, non-sporty friends this winter!

Hurray! Yet another benefit to those early mornings, sliding out of that warm, cosy bed, making your way to the pool in the cold and dark, then getting in that training set before work!

But before those unlucky (and snotty?) few throw your pack of tissues angrily at the screen, we will admit it’s not a foolproof path to full health.

The NHS estimate that during winter you are 80 per cent more likely to get a cold. But research consistently suggests that regular exercise is one of the best ways to avoid a cold in the winter months.

From the super-smart professors at the Appalachian State University in North Carolina, to our very own NHS and, to top it all off, research commissioned by Tetley Tea.

Let’s be honest. If you can’t trust an English tea manufacturer, who can you trust these days?!

Avoid a cold: the research

Research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2010 revealed that people who exercise regularly reduce their chances of catching a cold this winter and will suffer less severe symptoms.

Scientists from North Carolina found that adults who were physically active on five or more days a week were 50 per cent less likely to suffer from cold-like symptoms than those exercising once a week or less.

Exercise like swimming is great for lowering stress less which helps to maintain a healthy body.

The study, which tracked 1,002 adults between 18 and 85-years old over a 12-week period, also found the severity of the symptoms fell by 41 per cent for those who felt fittest and 31 per cent for those who were the most physically active.

The researchers said the results were due to a temporary rise in immune system cells every time the body exercises which leads to an overall increase in resistance to viruses and bacteria.

Aerobic exercise and perceived fitness levels were the most significant factors measured while eating fruit was also linked with a lower frequency of colds.

Avoid a cold: the expert

Ian Freeman, ASA Exercise Scientist, admitted eating a meal rich in protein and fibrous carbohydrates immediately after exercise was the best way to maximise immune function.

“Your immune system actually dips during exercise but then raises to a higher level over time,” said Freeman. “Exercise like swimming is fantastic for reducing stress which helps maintain a healthy body.

“But eating the right foods at the right time is also important. Lean protein is excellent for boosting your immune system function and fresh fruit and vegetables will also help.”

  • Click here to find healthy recipes to help improve your performance in the pool.