Friday, November 2, 2007

Dirt, Colds and Running

For the past week, I've had what seems to be a mild cold. Maybe it's just a regular cold? I'm not really sure since I don't get colds that often. The last time I had a cold symptoms (about a year ago) I actually had the whooping cough. I suppose compared to that, a cough associated with any cold is quite mild. I had read at one time that running and exercise in general lessened the severity and frequency of illness (such as colds). I've woken up sniffling or with a sore throat and found that after a 30 min walk or run, the symptoms are just about gone. So, I decided to see if anyone has researched colds and running. This morning I found an article that did mention that the frequency of colds tends to decrease when a person runs a moderate amount, but goes up if a lot of training is occurring. Here's a quote from the article:

"Those who run or walk briskly for 35 to 45 minutes per day, five days a week, spend about half the number of days per year suffering from cold symptoms, compared to sedentary people. In addition, about 60 per cent of recreational runners experience fewer colds after they initiate a running programme, compared to when they were sedentary . . . .

And mum probably forgot to tell you that if you run about 100 or more km per week, your risk of illness is about double, compared to the individuals who log less than 32 weekly kms. That suggests, of course, that immune function declines as training volume increases, yet we also know that runners tend to be healthier than sedentary people. So, a very reasonable question would be: what number of kms per week is best for overall health? Even mum herself doesn't know the answer to that question. The epidemiological evidence indicates that running a moderate amount of km is better for your health than staying on the couch. However, running lots and lots of km is worse for your health than being moderate: mega-mileage is associated with lots of sniffles, coughs, and perhaps other problems. Basically, the graphical plot of illness frequency versus mileage is a U-shaped curve. If there's no mileage, there is quite a bit of sickness, middle mileage leads to little illness, and high km let the microorganisms rule again. The 'middle ground' of best health may well be 25 to 50 km per week or so, or 35 to 45 minutes per day, but no one knows for certain, and the optimal amount no doubt varies from person to person."


The way the article (and that last sentence) was written made me think of my Dad and his theory on dirt. He's said many times that dirt is actually good for you, we just don't know how much or what kind!

So, we can probably all agree that exercise is good. But as in most things, too much of a good thing is not a good thing!

3 comments:

Luke said...

Have you hear heard of the Turkey Burner in Montgomery?....hmmmm, interesting....

Michele :)

Miriam said...

I'm in if you are! But of course that's the week before thanksgiving. Oh I'm soooo disappointed (not really)!

I run just for fun - I don't need no 5k!

Are you guys going to be coming for Thanksgiving? I hope so!

Elijah Lofgren said...

I hope you get well soon!

Thankfully it seems I haven't been sick this semester at all.

This week I started running with two other people. They run on Mon, Wed, and Saturday and I plan to continue to run with them.

We stretch, run the loop (about 1.25 miles) in about 9 minutes, walk the loop, and then do some post-stretching. Motivation increases dramatically when you have a time to meet with other people! :)

I hope you have a great trip!

See you at Thanksgiving! :)

Love ya,

Elijah