First we shiver, then we feel limp, finally our noses are dripping and our throats are scratching: the cold is here. However, the temperature itself is not to blame for the misery. Birgit Heck from “WetterOnline” explains: “Strangely enough, a misconception persists: that cold per se makes you sick.”
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Then she adds, “It is correct that cold inhibits blood circulation and can thus weaken the body even more. Viruses have an easier time of it. However, an infection is always triggered by pathogens, never by cold alone.” But what can be done about this fateful concatenation?
Get out into nature – if the weather permits
While we often spend the summer outdoors and “soak up the sun”, the cozy couch is more popular in winter – and if you have the opportunity, you can light the fireplace. But going out is important, because the sun’s rays not only ensure personal well-being, they also have a decisive influence on our hormonal balance and thus on the strength of our immune system.
Professor Ingo Froböse explains on the website “ksta.de”: “The sun is a simple but very effective means of improving the body’s own immune system.” It is only through them that the body is able to produce vitamin D through the skin. An undersupply of the vitamin, which is particularly common in autumn and winter, increases the likelihood of catching a cold considerably.
Froböse therefore advises staying outdoors for at least 15 minutes a day, even in winter. The lunch break can be used for this purpose, for example. A welcome side effect of a short walk in the sun: the mood rises, as the happiness hormone serotonin is increased.
Provide sufficient moisture
Birgit Heck affirms that “our immune system runs on the back burner” when we get too little sun. Then it would be easier for the viruses to multiply in the body. But she mentions another risk that makes life easier for the pathogens: dry air. If the mucous membranes in the nose and throat are not properly moistened, viruses would no longer be reliably transported away. The risk of the mucous membranes drying out is particularly high in winter. Inside is the dry heating air and outside the cold winter air, which can only store a little moisture. A fatal combination – especially since viruses, on the contrary, love the cold, because here they find optimal conditions for survival.
So what to do Lots of fluids (e.g. tea and water) is the most important measure, even if thirst seems to be lower than in summer. If you want to do more, you can inhale regularly and thus support the defense with hot vapors or with essential oils. Something can be done for room air with simple means and without professional air humidifiers. For example, by simply placing damp towels on the radiators.
With physical activity against the threatening cold
Sufficient exercise ensures better blood circulation and thus also a fitter immune system. This has been confirmed by studies from the Appalachian State University in Kannapolis, in which more than 1,000 test subjects took part. In the study, which was published in the “British Journal of Sports Medicine”, the scientists show that people who participate in sport regularly catch cold only about half as often as those who do not exercise. Exercise on five or more days per week was considered regular, although it only had to last around 20 minutes. Often it is enough to take a bike to work. Those who did this sporty workload also had significantly fewer symptoms in the event of an infection.
What is also interesting about the results is that the US researchers warn against exaggerations. If you spend too much time doing sports, you can overwork your body and weaken the immune system. Then the number of colds go up again. The advice to find a healthy mediocrity is probably not only correct when exercising, but also applies to healthy sleep, for example. Since happy people have been shown to live healthier lives, strict prohibitions are definitely not an ideal path. And in the end, everyone would probably do well to allow themselves a little rest more often, even if they don’t have flu symptoms.
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