Fitness attributes – freedom from illness

This is the next in the series on each of attribute in my What do you need to do to be fit? post.

I want to caveat this post by saying I have no medical training whatsoever and anything written below is the result of self experimentation. Although there are some basic principles we should all follow I would encourage you to experiment with your own lifestyle to see what works best for you – you might be able to get away with more than I can.

The germ theory of illness is very simple: there is a germ that causes an illness – you come into contact with that germ – you get sick.

As much as simple is good this doesn’t quite feel right. Do you ever notice when a bug is ‘doing the rounds’ a lot of people catch it but not everyone? There must be something else going on that means some people’s immune systems are doing a better job. Chris at Garage Gym Online has recently written a post about different theories on this topic.

I don’t know how you would train your immune system to be stronger but there are certainly things you can do to not weaken it.

Eat proper food
There is a lot of stuff in shops masquerading as food that doesn’t really deserve that label. If it has a long list of sciencey sounding words in the ingredients you should probably steer clear.

If you don’t understand the words, don’t eat the food. You can’t expect your body to fight off germs properly if it’s having to deal with that stuff.

Avoid sugar
This is really just an extension of the previous point. Sugar is pretty bad news and your body doesn’t like it.

“But I like cake” I hear you say. Yeah, me too. Lucky for me my wife has a knack for making treats with a lot of the naughty taken out. Lucky for you she writes a recipe blog, you should check it out. (note I said a lot, not all – there’s still some naughty in there)

Get some exercise, but not too much
Exercise makes your body stronger and more resilient (good thing). Too much breaks it down, and leaves you exhausted (bad thing).

Get enough sleep
A good nights sleep makes you feel great and, if you are sick, sleep can be the best medicine.

So, getting enough sleep has to help keep you well doesn’t it? It makes too much sense to not.

Late night TV is rubbish anyway. Turn it off and go to bed with a good book instead ( or a good woman/man 😉 ). You’ll feel better for it.

Avoid stress
The things mentioned in previous points could be counted as stress but here I mean emotional stress. Avoiding it can be easier said than done as often stress seeks you out.

Too much will wear you down, effect your sleep and ultimately your ability to fight germs. Fortunately exercise can help both relieve stress and provide a positive stimulus.

Most importantly, chill out – it’s probably not that important in the big picture. If it is that important, then share it with someone that you love.

I’ll be writing more on stress in a later post.

Change your mindset – decide to not get ill
Don’t worry, I’m not going to start writing about crystals and tarot but I do think the mind has more control over the body than perhaps we give credit.

One change I have made over the last few years is deciding to not get ill. I’ve no science to back up whether it has had an effect and I have changed more things than just this, but I know I haven’t been ill much since.

Wallowing in how sick you feel can make it worse. The opposite seems to work too.

Try it, just refuse to get ill.