Fighting off the Cold

It’s the start of the rainy season and it is during this time that the incidence of the common cold increases. I had passed on running the Pringles Run last Sunday since I was avoiding running under the rain for fear of developing a cold, hampering my training. This however got me to wonder whether there was any truth to this, that exposure to cold/rainy weather increases your risk of developing a cold, or was just this another one of those old wives’ tales with no scientific basis…

So I surfed the net looking for any evidence. My initial searches showed articles that did not support this claim. Scientists believed that colds occurred more during the colder season since during this time, people tended to stay indoors making transmission of the colds virus easier, thus more people get sick. Just when I was about to give up and debunk this claim, I came across a report by the New York Times done in November 2005. It reported that in a study done by the Common Cold Center in Wales (yup, you read that right, the UK has a center that’s devoted to studying JUST the common cold! – shows us how important this common condition is), it was shown that when volunteers were exposed to cold conditions, they developed, within 5 days, a cold almost 3x more frequent than subjects who remained dry. Though this was just one article among the many that showed cold weather is not a risk factor for developing colds, it’s still important because it gives a little credence to what our mothers have always been telling us ever since we were kids… “stay out of the cold, and keep yourself warm, as you might develop a cold.”

Though cold weather doesn’t really weaken a person’s immunity, the viruses that are the cause of a cold grow maximally at lower temperatures, and this may partially explain why we develop colds more during colder weather.

For runners, what does this mean? It just means that if the weather conditions seem to be not good for running, it’s a bit prudent to skip running in the meantime, but if the urge to run is strong, just remember to keep yourself warm before and after your run…. Keep on running!

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting other ways of preventing the development of the common cold…

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