Trying To Chase Away The Bad Things

I have a cold. Not particularly bad, but still a cold. It’s a drag.

Also, in the last few days I’ve been flooded with bad news from friends. Most of it normal life sad news.  But one piece of news was unimaginable tragedy. Thinking of the horror that my friend and her family are currently living, combined with sad news from other quarters put me into a bit of a funk – feeling profound sadness for some people who are very dear to me.

So I went running. Not a big run, just a couple of miles each day.

Chasing away the bad things.

What I wanted to do was curl up and pull the covers over my head. But I know that a little exercise is good for fighting a cold and the blues.

Light to moderate exercise boosts immune function. David Nieman, PhD discovered in his 1997 study, “Moderate Exercise Boosts The Immune System…”, that moderate exercise causes a temporary boost in the immune system. It lasts only a few hours, but it is also cumulative. Therefore, regular exercise prolongs the boost. A more recent study by researchers at Appalachian State University found that regular exercisers reduced the risk and severity of colds by 43-46%.

It’s so easy to just lie around the house and feel miserable with a cold. The last thing I want to do when I’m sick is exercise. But if I can potentially boost my immune system and lessen the length or severity of my cold, then a little light exercise is what I’ll do. Of course, if I have signs of respiratory infection – severe cough or fever – then rest is the better prescription.

Mind you, this is moderate exercise. The Nieman study found that extreme exertion had the opposite effect. Very intense exercise did boost the immune function, but the positive effect was short-lived. After the boost, immune function fell to even lower levels.

And mood? There are numerous studies showing that the hormones produced by exercise help boost mood. Aside from the physiological changes, I also believe that the simple act of choosing to exercise – choosing to do something positive – can affect how we feel for the better.

A new study looked at differences in walking in a busy urban setting and nature for people suffering from depression. Researchers found that people had improved cognitive function after walking in nature as compared with an urban setting. What was interesting was that there was no difference between the groups for mood changes – walking in any setting increased positive feelings and lowered negative feelings.

So I went for some easy runs.

Did it help? Yes. My sinuses and chest felt just a little less congested (and I didn’t have any of the nasty side effects of cold medicine). I had a little more energy. And I was a little less sad.

Did it make everything go away? No. I still have a little cold. I’m still sad for the tough times my friends are going through. A little run does not solve all problems. But if it helps even a little, I’ll take it.

Chasing away the bad things….

And, to borrow words from a friend, If you have a child, drop everything RIGHT NOW and tell them you love them. This is an order. GO. NOW!!

I wish solace to all who need it, and I’ll continue running to try to chase the bad things.


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6 Responses to Trying To Chase Away The Bad Things

  1. Julie, I’m sorry about your cold and about the sad news regarding people you care about. It seems someone is always grappling with something doesn’t it? I’ve not been doing well in the exercise department of late for a variety of reasons, but a few days ago I got back out there and started walking again. I feel better already. Like always, thanks for encouraging us without judging. Hope you feel better soon.

  2. gillian says:

    I didn’t know one could exercise with a cold. As in go for a run. Thought yoga was ok…..would like to know more re this.

  3. Thanks, Nancy – and good for you!

    Gillian, yes, moderate exercise is good. The old ideas about not exercising when you have a cold have been proven to be wrong. Don’t overdo it, though – keep it moderate. Go for a walk or an easy run, even lift some weights. Just don’t do a major hard workout. And not if you have a fever or other sign of infection.

  4. And Nancy, we all fall off sometimes for all sorts of reasons. The important thing is to get back. It can be hard to get back into it, but you just have to start – so, really, good for you!

  5. Ronni Gordon says:

    What you say about going for a short run, even though you might not feel like it, is so true. Reminds me that that’s what I need to do today!

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