Staying healthy

  • Creator
  • #3560

    I’d like to start a thread about staying healthy. Regular sinus infections or chest infections are the greatest impediment to any training plan I try to follow. Basic facts: I’m 44, a father, work a stress full job, and balance a great deal childcare and family work. I don’t smoke or drink, and have no significant health problems–beyond getting sick 8 to 12 times per year, usually for up to a week or more each time. I’ve had a full lung function work up, and blood tests, with no big red flags. I am often borderline anemic, and sometimes low on vitamin D, and take supplements for this. In terms of diet, I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat much red meat–maybe once a week. I eat a great deal of grains, fruits, and vegetables, and some dairy, mostly yoghurt and some milk and cheese. I also take a multivitamin. In terms of exercise, I have been training, in one form or another, for one sport or another, since I was 15 years old, so let’s say about 25 years. It’s normal for me to exercise 5 or 6 times a week, even if it’s just a half hour of light conditioning and jogging, and this has been true for basically my whole life. Exercising regularly is the norm for me–it’s just when I’m sick that I can’t exercise. For about the past seven years, ever since my daughter was born, I average about 4-5 hours per week of exercise, but when you add in the longer days of climbing and skiing, my yearly average are about 50 minutes per day. That’s an accomplishment I’m proud of! However, besides simply staying active and fit, I would like to work toward goals, such as building more specific strength or greater endurance, and it’s hard or impossible to do that because I keep getting sick. The only two things I know that have truly been shown to boost the immune system are 1) getting more sleep and 2) lowering stress. I have been trying to stick to a schedule and get in bed earlier, but the evening, after my wife and daughter have gone to sleep, is often my only quiet time, and I find myself remaining awake simply to unwind. I have also been thinking about doing something like Tai Chi to try to relax more. I have tried for several years to meditate, but it’s very hard for me. Perhaps the Tai Chi would be a moving meditation? Any other ideas in terms of lifestyle or diet changes would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  • Participant
    scott.ferguson on #3564

    Hey Bruno,

    Thanks for your post. I’m a Physiologist at the University of Colorado (Disclaimer: PhD, not MD so this is not “official” medical advice). I too have struggled with staying healthy as I seem to have a minor auto-immune deficiency that predisposes me to recurrent mononucleosis (mono) infection. I got really sick with mono when I was 17 (ended up in the hospital for a few days) and have experienced significant illness in (seemingly) random bouts over the past decade. I’m now nearly 30 and this last year has been a very healthy and productive training year, however I was sick through most of my mid-twenties (through graduate school).

    This won’t be a surprise to you, but the biggest change I’ve made to my lifestyle is maintaining an adequate sleep cycle. I shoot for at least eight hours/night and notice that I get sick after consecutive nights of <7 hours. I don’t have kids and I live across the street from the laboratory where I work so I certainly have little excuse for not getting my z’s in.

    Aside from sleep quantity, quality is also equally important. There is some scientific literature to suggest that exposure to back-lit screens (i.e. cell phones) within 2 hours of bed-time can attenuate melatonin production by as much as 80%. So, “sleep hygiene” maybe something you can further dial in for more restorative sleep. Also, if you are feeling run down from a poor night of rest, alter the workout or bag it all together. Adding the additional stress of training will further impair your immune system.

    Hopefully this helps?


    Scott F.

    madanyang on #3565


    I have studied Chinese Medicine so my comments are based on that mind set. However without a detailed diagnostic it is just general commentary on the subject.

    Contrary to the common belief, Tai Chi is a yang activity, meaning it will not bring you to a relax state ready to sleep easily. Diary products such as yoghurt cheese and milk in terms of Chinese medicine are no go when you have sinus and chest infections.

    Meditation or the initial phase of it which is relaxation can be done with any activity you do, cooking, walking, running, gardening, etc.. The idea is not to think the next phase but simply follow the rhythm of the event. In the beginning it sounds gibberish yet what is simple is easy to do and what is easy, is also simple.

    Anonymous on #3566

    Thanks for the replies. I appreciate the advice, especially the emphasis on sleep quantity and quality, and the suggestion to try (again) meditation.

    All advice welcome.


    Aaron on #3630

    Bruno, I have a similar profile to you and have likewise focused on maintaining health. Nutrition, sleep and no alcohol is my formula. I find stressful work requires exercise for good sleep but too much exercise can also become a stress. Dropping alcohol entirely has really helped my sleep and overall resilience.

    Peter W on #3631


    While I’m younger (just turned 27) and childless I have had a similar recurrent illness and work stress levels. I’ve always been extra susceptible to upper respiratory infections likely because, my physician thinks, of a case of chicken pox that almost killed me as a child and led to a fair bit of scarring inside my sinuses. For most of my life, I’ve had 2-4 multi-week colds plus at least one sinus infection per year.

    The past few years I’ve realized that I will likely get sick if: I drink, in any quantity, more than two days in a row, or I sleep less than 7hrs a night for 3 or more days. If i combine these two, particularly with a tough week of training or work, it is basically guaranteed I’ll get sick.

    I agree that I often find the end of the day to be the easiest time to unwind and have some me time but the stresses of the day can make it hard for that time to be truly relaxing for me. Over the past year or so I’ve started getting up much earlier a few days a week to workout when the day is still fully under my control. I’ve found these workouts are often much better at clearing my head and relaxing me than one’s at the end of the night. In your case I would imagine its tempting to workout after every else in the family has gone to sleep but I’ve often found late night energy system workouts (ie anything other than brief lifting sessions or yoga/mobility) make falling to sleep much more difficult for me even if I’m completely exhausted. Also, I’ve been trying (somewhat successfully) to limit my electronic screen time before bed and this does appear to make a difference as well.


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