3 Reasons Why The Fittest People Get More Infections!


Funny isn’t it, how the pursuit of healthfulness and wellbeing can actually increase your risk of becoming unwell. Although this is ironic, it is decidedly unfunny in the sense that illness = lost gains! If you’re one of those poor souls wandering around like a bear with a sore head because you’re unable to train, then maybe it’s time you started looking into why you may be more prone to getting an infection.

Increased lung ventilation

One of the most common forms of infection in athletes and the general population is upper respiratory tract infections (common cold). Adults commonly experience 2-4 colds a year, but an athlete has been known to contract considerably more than this for a number of reasons, with increased lung ventilation rate being one of the most popular. The increased breathing rate of an athlete instantly increases the risk of infection due to the sheer volume of air that is being sucked into the lungs. Couple this with a reduced immune response due to intense exercise regimes and reduced rest periods, and you have a recipe for infection.

Damage to the skin

This may not apply to everyone who exercises, but should you play a sport, perform an exercise movement or are generally accident prone, then any cut, scrape or tear to the skin is a way in to pathogens. Take Powerlifters and Crossfitters for example, they often cut their hands from gripping the bar, or scrape their shins from deadlifting. These physical abrasions provide a direct route into your circulatory system for pathogens (germs).

Foreign Travel

This may come as no surprise to you if you’ve been away on holiday recently, take for example the air-conditioning in a plane, that air you’re breathing in has already been inhaled and exhaled by everybody else around you. Yes, it’s predominantly just carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen, but there are also some added little extras in that air too such as germs from that one person sat in the window seat on the 3rd row back. If that cough they have is viral and not an allergy, then whether you like it or not, you’re at a much higher risk of getting it than outside of that viral cocoon of aeroplane. Factor in the frequency that elite athletes (for example) have to travel, and it’ll come as no surprise that athletes are at a greater risk of infection than most (Gleeson and Williams, 2005).

Reduce your risk

Some simple things that may support your immune response and reduce your risk of infection include:

Vitamin C

Vitamin D

Whey Protein (One of the many reasons athletes are predisposed to infection is inadequate protein) (Gleeson, 2005).


Play it safe with a Multi- vitamin and mineral



Gleeson, M & Williams, C. (2005). Nestle Nutrition Institute. Intense exercise training and immune function. Retrieved 21st May, 2015, from https://www.nestlenutrition-institute.org/resources/library/Free/workshop/NNIW76/Documents/NNI076%20%28En%29_008.pdf
Gleeson M (ed): Immune Function in Sport and Exercise. Edinburgh, Elsevier, 2005.



About the Author

Job Role Qualified Dietitian and Sports Nutritionist Qualifications BSc (Hons) Sports Science | BSc (Hons) Dietetics Tom has always participated in sport both recreationally and competitively which led to an unquenchable thirst for information on anything health, nutrition and fitness. After leaving school Tom went on to play for a football academy during which time he studied Sport and Exercise Science. From here he went on to study a BSc (Hons) Sport Science at UEA followed by his second BSc (Hons) degree, this time at the University of Hertfordshire studying Dietetics. Tom has worked in the fitness, educational and clinical nutrition industry starting out at David Lloyd Health and Leisure Clubs. He then went on to work as a Dietitian (RD) in the NHS, during which time he conducted clinics for healthy eating, weight loss and weight gain, as well as specialised consultations on Diabetes, IBS and Coeliac disease to name a few. He has vast amounts of experience at devising diet plans and supplement regimens, as well as working in the community with schools and competitive athletes. As Head Nutritionist and Supplement expert at Discount Supplements Tom is here to provide current and evidence based health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals!
Post a Comment

Please wait...