The Flu and You, the Athlete. . .


It's that same time of the year again when the media tells us we have to get our flu shots and we better hurry because supplies are running out!

It is like clock work, we push towards the Holiday Season, particularly Thanksgiving and we are told to get ready for Christmas. . .a week before Thanksgiving!  Then right after Thanksgiving we have eaten ourselves into a coma but have just enough energy to shop until we drop on Black Friday, fighting crowds of people for the next best gadget.

Between black Friday (it should be called "crazy" Friday and not "black" Friday, I'm just say'n) and the New Year, we come in contact with A LOT of people and usually people we are not normally around.  Think about it, Thanksgiving we are with family, friends, airport travelers and strangers if we are doing seasonal volunteer work.  Christmas brings crowds of people shopping along side us, company parties, neighborhood block parties and food, glorious "rich" food that we just can't get enough of.

Ah yeah, your immune system has just been crushed by the Holiday Season.  We all do it, year after year.  Falling off our daily routine and workout regiment, putting our bodies at risk to catch whatever virus is out there.  If this is not you that's good but it could be someone around you and whatever you touch at work, the gym or while running errands. . .you are open to catching someone else's germs.


Here are some quick tips to Preventing the Flu: Good Health Habits Can Help Stop Germs

1.  First, as an athlete, make sure that if you are going to the gym on a consist basis that you clean the equipment before using it.  Most gyms have anti-bacterial spray or wipes that are disposal and easy to use.  After your workout, make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly and avoid contact to your face before, during and after your workout.

According to the Center of Disease Control. . .

2.  Avoid Close contact.  Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  No problem, right? Well, there are those that still come to the gym, work and school who don't believe they are that sick, so watch out and STAY AWAY!

3. Stay home when you are sick and do not workout.  If possible, stay home from work, school and the gym when you are sick.  Your body is trying to fight off whatever it is you caught.  Running or doing a high-impact workout will only make you weaker and lengthen your cold.  So, stay away  and remember everyone else will love you for it.

4.  Cover your mouth and nose when you are coughing and sneezing "PLEASE".  I know that many of us may  not know when we are going to sneeze or cough but just in case carry some tissue in your back pocket at all times.  A small pack of tissue from Target is about $1.20.


5.  Clean your hands.  Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand rub.  You can pick up a ton of those little "anti-bacterial" tubes from Target, Walmart or your local drug store for as little as $.99.  Put one in your kids lunch boxes as well!

6. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.  Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touching his or her eyes, nose and mouth.

7.  Practice other good health habits.  Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.  Hmmm. . .really! Cool!

Please note: talk to your doctor about getting the flu shot.  Everyone is different when it comes to their health.  The flu shot can NOT prevent you from catching the common cold or a bronchial infection, so make sure you get the facts before getting the shot or letting your kids get the shot.  

I usually do not get the flu shot but in November 2011 I did.  Honestly, I did not see the difference in having it.  I did catch a quick stomach flu and later a virus that lasted for several weeks, so the flu shot is an individual choice with your doctor's consent.

According to USA Today, this month 18 children under the age of 18 have died because of the seasonal flu and over 2200 people have been hospitalized with flu symptoms.  Right now, it's time to listen to your doctor, let him/her take into consideration your health history and decide if the flu shot is for you.  

Let's stay Happy and Healthy out there! 

Happy Running

Posted on February 5, 2014 .