It’s one week after the cold, wet rain permeated the White Rock Marathon. Lots of people, including my mother, have asked me if I caught pneumonia from running “The Rock”?
So, does running in the rain make you sick? This is one of those questions that seems to be doomed to getting inconclusive answers forever. Especially when it comes to the opinion of Mom!
People usually do get sick more when the weather is rainy. That's because they stay indoors more, and indoors is where cold and flu viruses spread because of increased contact between individuals. On a sunny warm day, everybody goes outdoors, where there is (obviously) more space, better ventilation, and less physical contact with large numbers of other individuals.
Catching an infectious disease such as the common cold requires direct exposure to the pathogen (virus). Exposure comes in the form of close contact with an infected individual. Going into cold and rainy weather will not make you sick unless you also get colonized by the pathogen while you're out there.
There have been reports that cold temperature itself reduces the effectiveness of our immune system, but even that's not sufficient alone - you'd still need exposure to the virus.
"Cold and rainy weather causes virus infections to spread more rapidly than usual" - Fact, due to people staying indoors more and getting exposed
Wash your hands, stay away from people who are sick, and feel free to run and play in the rain, just like we did last Sunday at the White Rock Marathon. Run Happy....and remember to jump in puddles after the 6th mile when your feet are already soaked!
Winter has decided to visit North Texas today. Two inches of ice covered by snow, and just in time for the Super Bowl. Time to think about trying to prevent slip and fall injuries. Lots of people fall on ice and snow every year-without serious injury. Not so fortunate were some 16,000 Americans who die each year from falls, according to the National Safety Council (NSC).
I wonder how many of them were runners? I watched from my window this morning as one of my crazy neighbors fell running on the sidewalk in front of my house. The snow had not even stopped coming down yet! Crazy! Even I ran on the treadmill this morning, and most of my peeps will tell you: I Hate Treadmill Running! Better the treadmill than the emergency room!
Falls rival poisoning as the number one home accident in the U.S. The number of injuries or deaths from falls due to winter conditions is not recorded by the NSC. But, safety experts agree that many injuries result from falls on ice-covered surfaces.
It's important that individuals recognize the hazards of slippery surfaces. Here are helpful hints from winter-safety experts that will reduce the risk of falling when slippery conditions exist:
Wear boots or overshoes with soles. Avoid walking in shoes that have smooth surfaces, which increase the risk of slipping. Trail running shoes are better than your regular road shoes.
Run or walk consciously. Be alert to the possibility that you could quickly slip on an unseen patch of ice. Avoid the temptation to run quickly. Run in high alert!
Run or walk cautiously. Your arms help keep you balanced, so keep hands out of pockets and avoid carrying anything that may cause you to become off balance. This even means leaving your precious water bottle at home.
Run or walk "small." Practice your "Chi" running and throw your center of gravity forward. Avoid an erect, marching posture. Look to see ahead of where you step.
When you step on icy areas, take short, shuffling steps, curl your toes under and run or walk as flatfooted as possible.
Run where the path has been cleared. Even in your own yard, remove snow immediately before it becomes packed or turns to ice. Keep your porch stoops, steps, walks and driveways free of ice by frequently applying ice melter granules. This is the best way to prevent formation of dangerous ice patches. Don't be stupid like my neighbor and try to run while snow is still flying!
Even when you practice safe running and walking habits, slipping on ice is sometimes unavoidable. It takes, on average, less than two seconds from the moment you slip until you hit the ground. That's precious little time to react. In that instant, the risk is an injury to your head, a wrist, hip, ankle or shoulder.
When falling, it is best to use a tuck-and-roll principle. It's important to tuck your body, lift your head and avoid trying to break the fall with a hand, which can cause a wrist injury. Ask Dr Karpati about her broken wrist from skiing the next time you are in the office. The idea is to make yourself as small as possible by rolling up into a ball.
People in North Texas hardly ever think about falling on ice and snow, but serious injuries can occur. If you are a klutz or are planning to spend a lot of time in the cold; following these guidelines may help protect you from serious injury this winter. If it is not a choice to hit the treadmill, practice caution while running in the snow and ice. If you do happen to fall and sprain your ankle or foot, call the office. Help is just a phone call away! And remember, just because you can walk on it doesn’t mean it is not broken.
Run Happy and Be Careful! Don't Be a Statistic!
I’m just getting over a spring sinus infections. Again! I’ve always considered myself a middle-of-the road, moderate intensity runner. I run two marathons a year and dabble in triathlon in the spring and summer. Nothing crazy. Yet, every spring I seem to be susceptible to the dreaded runny nose syndromes. I’ve always chalked the whole thing up to Texas allergens, but is that it? Or does my running make me more susceptible to the common cold? Interesting question posed to me by an ENT colleague. She pointed out that many marathoners experience significant increase in upper respiratory infections in the post-race months.
Let’s look at the research. A recent survey of 30 different studies of runners and decreased immune function that may lead to increased upper respiratory infections revealed little agreement from the experts. Yes, they all agree that moderate activity may enhance immune function, but they describe this as brisk walking for 30 to 45 minutes a day. What runner does that little activity? Most studies also agreed that high-intensity exercise temporarily impairs the immune competence. Hence the increased incidence of upper respiratory infections in marathon runner and especially ultra-marathon runners.
Athletes, when compared with their couch potato colleagues, experience higher rate of upper respiratory infections especially in the few weeks after intense training and races. In non-athletes, increasing physical activity is associated with a decreased risk of upper respiratory infections.
This so-called open window of altered immunity is temporary, lasting from three to 72 hours after an intense, prolonged event. Nevertheless, it presents an ideal opportunity to viruses and other invading pathogens, especially those that enter the body through the respiratory system.
Sounds bad, so what can we do to increase our immunity and avoid the runny-nose syndromes?
Several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, E, and C, and the minerals zinc and iron, are essential for normal immune function. Vitamins C and E, in particular, are also powerful antioxidants. It has long been known that long-distance running and other endurance events can increase the levels of free radicals—molecules that oxidize and cause damage to cells, including immune cells. The body produces its own antioxidants to counter free radicals and oxidative stress.
Many runners, operating under the theory that more of a good thing is better, take vitamin and mineral supplements. And while moderate amounts may very well be beneficial for the active individual, there is little evidence to support taking megadoses, with the possible exception of vitamin C. Some studies found that taking vitamin C (about 600 milligrams/day) for three weeks before an ultramarathon reduced postrace cold symptoms. Other researchers have found that vitamin C supplementation made no difference. Sounds like a multivitamin with extra vitamin C can’t hurt, but may not be our savior!
Should you run when you’re sick?
If you have a cold, most doctors recommend waiting a day or so after your cold symptoms disappear to resume intensive exercise. Mild to moderate exercise (such as walking) when you have a cold is fine. If your illness is more serious—fever, fatigue, muscle aches—you should wait two to four weeks before resuming your training regimen. Like any of us do that!
Just as intense, extended physical stress can depress certain immune responses, so too can chronic psychological stress and inadequate sleep. So during periods of intense training and before long races, the take-home message is this: keep other life stresses to a minimum if possible. Get enough sleep, avoid rapid weight loss, and eat a healthy diet. Sounds like a no-brainer!
Bottom line: marathon runners are more susceptible to upper respiratory infections. Getting more sleep, decreasing your overall stress and taking a multivitamin with extra vitamin C may help.
Run Happy! And Bold in the Cold!
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