The common winter cold. Are you covering the basics?

The common winter cold. Are you covering the basics?



It seems to be that time of year where at some point you and/or someone close to you will be a victim of that annoying common cold.


It’s not a secret that we all hate being ill and it is definitely true that some hate it more than others and some are pretty decent at just getting on with life (myself not included).


Back in the day, It never used to bother me being a little run down and not doing much, well, I say not doing much but I was probably doing so much that when I took the foot off of the gas a bit it was probably considered the normal amount of things to be doing.


Now, I almost feel miserable for not being able to do things I want to (like train and see some peoples) and in my field, go to work. Well I could do but from past experiences, it’s worth just taking that extra day off now rather than an extra five days off next week and potentially losing business because I’ve passed it on and made one of my clients sick.


Honestly, in the past 9 months, I’ve probably had a cold about 3 times, but that doesn’t almost compare to the year before, mainly 2017-2018. I was nursing one of those bad boys at least every 6 weeks.


There were a few reasons for this, the main was burning the candle at both ends. Work, commute, taking on others issues, my own training, sleep (or lack of) and social life (including the consumption of alcohol), but without going on about myself, here are a few things that might help…




The basics


Go see your doctor.


Sleep, rest and reset:

To paint a clearer picture, some studies have shown that if you are getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night, you are at a greater risk of catching some sort of immune infection. And if you get anything less than 5 hours per night, the chances increase dramatically.


I understand that some of you because of life and work, you are set to a limited amount of sleep, particularly if you have children. With my mum being a single parent most of her life and working with a lot of mums in my time as a personal trainer, it is common knowledge to me that some of you parents are considered lucky if you get a 2-3 hours unbroken sleep, and that’s only if you get 3 hours sleep at all in the night.


And if you’re a banker or have a job of a similar nature, man, I feel you. I’ve worked with enough bankers and lawyers to know that most of the year, your only chances of some sleep is the commute in and out of work and the 4 hours that your home before heading back to the office. But what you can do, implement some sleep routine so that when you do hit the hay, your sleep quality is as good as can be (e.g. lights out, clean sheets


Try napping when you can, if like me, you have quite an odd timetable and start at 6am mostly have gaps in the day, you can squeeze one of these in the middle of the day. Luckily for me, my close friends are DJs and have an equally odd work schedule.



Firstly, you need to be eating enough food in the day. Ideally hitting your RMR (your Resting Metabolic Rate is the set amount of calories your body needs just to have basic function) amount of calories or very close to, dependant on your current goal or situation.


I’d then aim to have as many fruits and veggies in your diet as possible. Over the years, the daily recommended amount has varied quite vastly, some sources saying “5 a day” others saying 7 and some even saying as much as 11. All I’m saying is the more the better and having too much fruit and vegetables is not bad for you, but it might get a little boring. Hence the importance of variety in your diet.



If the cold or flu has completely wiped you out, then you just need to chill the f*^& out. At least for the initial 3-5 days anyway. Once the first 5 days have subsided, the worst of your cold is typically over and you’ll feel noticeably different in yourself, particularly with your energy levels and desire to do things.


To start you off, I’d probably suggest you find yourself some sort of mobility routine from YouTube  (or there’s even one you can find on my Instagram page: benchstonehealthandfitness #PLUG :-D) because I know that tired and slumpy feeling after being a lot more sedentary. You’ve got to rekindle those muscles. Even a swift walk the block would prove beneficial. And if you are ready to get yourself back in the gym, I’d recommend you reduce the amount you do. Whether that’s the ‘amount of sets/reps/time spent in the gym, that’s your choice.



I am a food first advocate, meaning that if you should aim to get all of the necessary nutrients from food first because you can, unless you’re a vegan and can’t get your leucine from your lentils (ooo shots fired… I’m playing).


Vitamin C – whilst it’s not completely preventable, by supplementing Vitamin C daily can reduce the risk of catching the common cold by 8-14%.


Vitamin D – vitamin D is most accessible from the sun, but living in London, most of the year, we just don’t get enough of it. Thus its best to supplement it. It’s associated with a vast range of benefits including immune health. It’s just one of those that I will always take whilst I live in the gloomy winter days of London.


Zinc – it’s a supplement taken regularly throughout the year to reduce the amount of times one can be sick, generally when you are not able to get enough from food. Zinc is lost through sweat and I’m pretty familiar with the sweats when feeling rough.


Melatonin – is a hormone that is secreted in the brain to help regulate sleep. As mentioned, sleep is king with most recovery, so why not take the opportunity to aid some good quality sleep.



Please bear in mind that these supplement recommendations are purely advisory and that before supplementing, its best for you to be tested by a professional and legitimate service to see whether you are deficient in anything, therefore, needing to supplement to regulate your levels.



Sweat it out:

The number of times I still hear this, not just from the general population but I still hear trainers suggesting it to their clients and I just think “twat”. Your body is already stressed and telling you that you need to take better care of yourself, so the last thing your body needs is more stress. I’ve done it myself in the past and sometimes still guilty of it and have felt that feeling of euphoria during and immediately after the session, but I have also felt that brick wall when I’ve calmed down and felt 10 times worse. All I’ve done there is delayed my recovery process.


If you don’t believe, measure your Resting Heart Rate now and compare it to your Resting Heart Rate when you are sick, or vice versa. I’m pretty certain that your RHR will be higher when you are sick.


A shot of liquor:

Now, this is an old wives tale isn’t it. Again, I’ve been a victim of this in the past suggested by my uncle (not a doctor) and my grandad (also not a doctor).


It might take the edge off a bit in the initial stages but that will soon wear off.


Saying that there is a study that suggests that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower incidence of the common cold. Soo….. you know….. do your thing.


Yours thankfully,

Luke :)





IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: All of the content in my blog posts are purely advisory and I take no responsibility for your actions.