Keep your immunity up this winter - Women's Running

Keep your immunity up this winter

Author: Chris Macdonald

Read Time:   |  November 16, 2017

sick woman

As soon as the UK sees its first glimpse of Santa, mince pies and mistletoe, our British population goes completely mad! We dash through shopping centres like headless chickens, fall over ourselves in supermarkets scrabbling for turkeys and prosecco, book in every possible social event we can and irrationality decide that sleep is for the weak.

Unfortunately, at this time of year we also all get sick. Cramming into stuffy, germ-ridden shopping centres like sardines and exchanging our five a day for champers and cocktail sausages, it’s unsurprising that germs are rife and spreading like wild-fire as our immune systems hit an all time low.

A lovely time of year to spend time with family and friends, the last thing we want to be plagued with is the flu – or even worse a stomach bug, as we hit rock bottom before the big day. Together with GP Juliet McGrattan, we’ve compiled our top tips for keeping your immune system up during the busy Christmas period, to give you a fighting chance of battling off the bacteria gremlins!

Brush up your nutrition. Eating a wide variety of foods with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables will give your body all the vitamins it needs to keep healthy.

Get plenty of sleep. Being over-tired lowers the body’s immune defence, leaving you open to infection.

Reduce your stress levels. Let everyone else get worked up about the festive period. Stress just wears you down and makes you tired. Find time to relax and your body will thank you for it.

Don’t over-train. With some extra time off it’s tempting to do a lot more running but just be careful. We know the immune system is reduced for about 24hrs after a tough training session or long run so don’t forget rest days are important too.


Take time off if you need to. If you do come down with something then you need to rest and let your body heal. Sometimes soldiering on is necessary but it’s often not the best option. You’ll find you recover more quickly and are less likely to pick up the next bug if your body isn’t still trying to fight off the last one.

Keep your germs to yourself. ‘Coughs and sneezes spread diseases’ so do your fellow commuters a favour and keep them to yourselves. (If only they would read this too!) Disposing of tissues and washing your hands help prevent the spread of infection.

Woman washing your hands in bathroom

Wash your hands. At this time of year, door knobs and handrails in places such as shopping centres are riddled with germs. Wash your hands and protect yourself against nasty viruses.

Chris Macdonald

Editor-at-Large, Women's Running

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