Athletes can have a higher incidence of sickness than the general population.

That will shock a lot of you.

But remember, training is a stressor.

Which leads to transient depression of white blood cell function.

The immune system is reported to decrease transiently in the hours after heavy exertion by 15-70% (Walsh et al., 2018).

6 things that can reduce your risk:

1. Vitamin D

In people who had deficient levels of vitamin D when they began supplementation, they saw a 18–60% reduction in the odds of illness (Martineau et al., 2017)

2. Garlic

By improving the ability of white blood cells to fight invaders, garlic can enhance the immune system and thus reduce the risk of colds and other infections.

3. Vitamin C

“In people who are physically very active, and thus more likely to get sick, vitamin C can reduce the occurrence of colds.” (Harri Hemilä et al., 2013)

4. Zinc

Zinc is a dietary mineral that can bolster the immune system and thus protect against the common cold and other infectious diseases.

5. Eat like an adult and sleep like a baby

“Factors such as lack of sleep and inadequate nutrition (particularly deficiencies of protein and essential micronutrients) can also depress immunity” (Gleeson 2016)

6. Structured Programme

Allow for periods of rest and adaptation. If you’re not giving yourself sufficient recovery you’ll be significantly increasing your risk.

Don’t get this confused.

Exercise, in the long run, will improve your immune system.

However, athletes pushing the limit will have periods of suppressed immunity. Particularly combined with the stressors of competition and travel, this post simply services as a guide for reduce the risk during these periods.