Kyle and Jeff talk about why you might be getting more colds than the average American. We also visit with Kevin Weston, an exercise physiologist, about wellness strategies that matter the most to your overall health and wellness. Check it out at The Huntsman World Senior Games.
Three Dog Night: Jeremiah was a bullfrog, was a good friend of mine. Never ever-
Kyle Case: Hello, and welcome to the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life. My name is Kyle Case, and I'll be your host on this amazing journey as we attempt to help you get the most out of your life. Joining me in the studio today is my co-pilot, Jeff Harding. Jeff, how you doing today?
Jeff Harding: Well this co-pilot is flying a little under the weather.
Kyle Case: Really?
Jeff Harding: A little bit of a cold. Actually, the cold's going away now. It's going to my chest. I have the cough, but yeah. Overall, I'm doing pretty good.
Kyle Case: Well so, this-
Jeff Harding: That's the third time this season.
Kyle Case: -Jeff, tell me if any of this sounds familiar to you.
Jeff Harding: Okay.
Kyle Case: Runny nose.
Jeff Harding: Yes.
Kyle Case: Sore throat.
Jeff Harding: Yes.
Kyle Case: Cough.
Jeff Harding: Yes.
Kyle Case: Congestion.
Jeff Harding: Yes.
Kyle Case: Sneezing.
Jeff Harding: Yes.
Kyle Case: And just generally feeling awful.
Jeff Harding: Yes.
Kyle Case: Any of that sound familiar?
Jeff Harding: Have you been watching me do this? Have you been spying on me, Kyle? (laughter) Yes [inaudible 00:00:54], so what am I going to do? Yes,
Kyle Case: Yes, so of course these are all signs that you have a common cold, and according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, adults on average have about two to three colds each year.
Jeff Harding: [crosstalk 00:01:07] Well then I'm above average. I've already had that this year.
Kyle Case: I knew that. I knew that, because I've seen you suffer this winter and spring, and when you consider that the average cold lasts seven to 10 days, that's 18 to 20 days out of 365 that the average person spends fighting a cold. I feel like you've been fighting it for more than that.
Jeff Harding: For 45 days I've been 45 out of 45.
Kyle Case: It feels like that.
Jeff Harding: I mean I'll just getting over it, or just getting started again. So yeah, it's been-
Kyle Case: Yeah, so anyway, I know you've been struggling with the cold. It's been hanging on, and then you get a little bit better, and then it comes right back to you. Today, Jeff, I want to see if we can discover the reason why.
Jeff Harding: I already know it's my grandson.
Kyle Case: Oh, you know, okay. Well, then we can just skip over the intro and (laughter) ... No, actually there are several things that can lead to someone suffering from a cold, and I want to see if any of these apply to you and see if we can track it down, okay?
Jeff Harding: All right, I'll be the guinea pig here.
Kyle Case: Okay? Number one: you're a smoker.
Jeff Harding: Nope.
Kyle Case: I knew that that was not the case.
Jeff Harding: I knew you did, yeah.
Kyle Case: I knew that that didn't apply to you, but Cedrina Calder, who is a preventive medicine doctor and health expert, says that the chemicals found in cigarette smoke have been found to alter the immune system's natural response by weakening it. It directly affects the cells of the immune system, she says, and that causes you to become more likely to catch frequent colds.
Jeff Harding: Wow. Really.
Kyle Case: Additionally, Calder says that smoking temporarily damages the tiny little hairs of the respiratory tract that normally help to clear out mucus and debris which tend to carry those germs.
Jeff Harding: Is that what tickles your throat when you have the cough, too, those little hairs?
Kyle Case: I think it's more in your nose, right?
Jeff Harding: Oh, well, okay, yeah.
Kyle Case: I don't think that that- I could be wrong. Maybe your hairs are longer than mine. I don't know.
Jeff Harding: Well, I'm old. They are. (laughter)
Kyle Case: Anyway, she says, to prevent the common cold, the best solution is to just stop smoking altogether, speak to your doctor about quitting smoking and your options for help in breaking the habit. And that's only one reason to quit smoking. There are lots and lots of reasons to quit smoking. But I knew that that one didn't apply to you.
Jeff Harding: Right.
Kyle Case: So here's the next one. Are you an avid hand washer?
Jeff Harding: I try to wash regularly, yeah.
Kyle Case: Okay, so if you're slacking on your hygiene, particularly when it comes to washing your hands, you shouldn't be surprised that you find yourself with the sniffles on a somewhat regular basis. When you don't wash your hands regularly, you're creating an environment that sets the stage up for recurrent infections like a cold. And that's because viral particles caused by the common cold may spread easily, especially when we don't wash our hands.
Jeff Harding: Yeah, when I have a cold, I try not to spread germs from my hands. I do fist bumps or elbow bumps to say hello to people rather than shake hands.
Kyle Case: Okay, there you go. So I'm going to check that one off of your list.
Jeff Harding: All right.
Kyle Case: You're a frequent hand washer. At least you try to be. Okay.
Jeff Harding: Regular.
Kyle Case: Number three: you're stressed out.
Jeff Harding: No, yeah, yeah, (laughter) yeah, maybe, maybe.
Kyle Case: Maybe a little bit, huh? So they've found that cNow, that's interesting. I have heard the concept that stress can lead to getting sick. I didn't realize that stress actually reduces your immune cells. That's interesting to me.
Jeff Harding: It is.
Kyle Case: To reduce the number of colds you're getting, you might need to consider addressing some of the stressors that you have in your life. You might also want to consider stress-reducing practices like yoga.
Jeff Harding: Yoga (laughter).
Kyle Case: You knew that was coming, right?
Jeff Harding: Yeah I did.
Kyle Case: Meditation's another one. Mindfulness techniques. All of which we've talked about on the show before.
Jeff Harding: There's one other, Kyle. I need a work vacation to Hawaii for about two weeks. Can you pay for that?
Kyle Case: You mean a work vacation? There's a particular group that you want to recruit.
Jeff Harding: Yes. The answer is this. They're on the beaches in Hawaii.
Kyle Case: Okay. Submit that in writing (laughter), and we'll see what we come up with.
Jeff Harding: He's not going to do it. (laughter)
Kyle Case: Probably not going to be approved. But submit it anyway. The next one: you're sleep deprived.
Jeff Harding: No, that's something that I've learned from this show. I have been getting at least seven hours a night.
Kyle Case: And that is important. If you wake up rested and ready to face the day, that's a good thing. If you don't, your chances of getting sick are increased.
Jeff Harding: Now what's really a bummer is when you're sick, you don't rest as well, so you don't wake up as refreshed.
Kyle Case: I know. It's that cycle, right?
Jeff Harding: It is.
Kyle Case: It's that continual cycle. A couple of others, really quickly. You're not eating healthy foods.
Jeff Harding: Well, I eat healthy foods along with unhealthy foods. So I'm-
Kyle Case: I know you try to get in your fruits and vegetables, and that's good. Experts recommend that we avoid sugar and processed foods, both of which might decrease immune function. And instead, we should be loading up on nutrient-rich whole foods, like well-sourced organic, grass-fed and finished animal protein or nourishing soups, colorful salads, green leafy vegetables. All of those are packed with flu and cold fighting phytonutrients, and they're just good for you. You feel better when you eat good, right?
Kyle Case: The last one: maybe this is you. You're spending more time indoors.
Jeff Harding: Well, only because it's been winter.
Kyle Case: Yeah? Because it's cold outside, right?
Jeff Harding: Well, cold air-
Kyle Case: A lot of people think that it's because it's cold outside that we get colds. Really, it's because we're spending more time inside-
Jeff Harding: Very confined space.
Kyle Case: -During the colder months, people are indoors more, which leads to more indoor contact, and then, of course, more spreading of the germs. Experts also say that colder temperatures can slow down the immune system, which makes it easier to get sick. Plus, being inside more means exposure to dust, which can trigger allergies, which can often feel like a cold, even though it's not a cold, but you still have a lot of those same symptoms.
Jeff Harding: I think a lot of my colds this year have been an allergy.
Kyle Case: Do you?
Jeff Harding: I do.
Kyle Case: Something in the air-
Jeff Harding: This one was a legitimate cold, but others have been allergies, but they affect me the same way.
Kyle Case: So after going through that list, do you still trace it back to your grandson?
Jeff Harding: Oh yeah. (laughter) Because he's been coughing and sneezing and walking around the house and not covering his mouth.
Kyle Case: When he's sick, grandpa's sick.
Jeff Harding: Yeah.
Kyle Case: That's just the way it works.
Jeff Harding: Yep.
Kyle Case: Well Jeff, today's guest is Kevin Weston, a certified exercise physiologist. He has worked in the fitness industry since 2004, has received his Master's degree from Concordia University in applied exercise science, and is a return guest on the show. So Kevin, thanks for coming back. We're glad to have you once again.
Kevin Weston: It's great as always to be here.
Kyle Case: So as someone in the health and wellness industry, not necessary specializing in colds, but somebody in the industry, does any of that ring true or does that sound like what you experience?
Kevin Weston: Yeah, especially the part about the sleep. When you talked about it's kind of this evil snowball of I know I need sleep to feel better, but I can't sleep because I'm congested. How do you work through that? So I've had lots of common experience with that. I don't know exactly what to do about it but just let the cold take its course, I guess.
Kyle Case: Sometimes, that's the only solution, right, is just letting it run its course, and-
Jeff Harding: There's always catnaps too because they help.
Kevin Weston: Yeah.
Kyle Case: And Jeff would know.
Jeff Harding: Yes I would. Thank you for noticing that, Kyle. (laughter) He walks past my office when he goes in there and he gives off this-
Kyle Case: Every once in a while, I've seen Jeff just being mindful. It's a mindful meditation technique.
Jeff Harding: It's very intentional. Yes, when I'm sitting there, and my eyes are closed, I'm sitting at my computer, that's what it is.
Kyle Case: Yes, for sure.
Kevin Weston: He's been praying for a long time in there.
Kyle Case: Yes he has. He's growing closer to the Boss, right? Excuse me. So today, Kevin, we want to talk about wellness strategies that matter the most. So let's jump into it. What are some things that, from a health and wellness standpoint, we need to be aware of?
Kevin Weston: When it comes to wellness strategies, in my experience being in the field, there's a little bit of when people are talking about here are some different goals, objectives that I have. And how do I meet those objectives? The first thing we want to iron down is, what things do you have control over, and what things do you not?
Kyle Case: And that seems like an obvious thing, and yet so many of us spend so much of our time and our energy worrying about the things that we can't control.
Kevin Weston: Absolutely, I'll-
Kyle Case: So to actually be able and to sit down and say, "Okay, I'm going to sort this out. This is something that I can control, and these are things that are beyond my control." I think there's value in that.
Kevin Weston: Absolutely. And as human beings, we're so alike but so different.
Jeff Harding: And we're hard-wired to try and fix the things that we can't.
Kevin Weston: Bingo. Yeah.
Kyle Case: It feels like it, right?
Kevin Weston: Absolutely, and so I will give an example of many times, a couple will come to me, and they're on a health journey of some sort, and even though they're, "Oh, we're doing this together so we can be supportive of each other." Then they start to be competitive with one another, like, (laughter) "How come my husband or my wife is getting this, and I'm not?"
Kyle Case: That's tough, yeah.
Kevin Weston: And so that's an example of, well, because I know you're joined as one in marriage, but you're still two different entities. And so that's an example of controlling those things that are within your realm of influence and those things that are not. Don't worry about it. There's nothing you can do about it.
Kyle Case: Yeah, I love it. What are some other things? You mentioned sleep. I think that's a great one. Let's talk a little bit about that, how important it is, and it is within our control to a great degree.
Kevin Weston: Absolutely. I think one that gets overlooked is how we manage our stress, how we react to it. We always know that life's always going to throw us curve balls, but how you manage that is going to vary from person to person. Some people might not listen to music or talk radio on the way home from work or just be having to listen to silence. It could be taking a nap. It could be watching a movie or something that gets your mind off of what it is that you're dealing with. I think for a lot of people it's having that social connection, having that human connection with other people and having someone that you can talk to and work through if there are different challenges that you're facing in your life is a big component.
Kyle Case: And I think that we're understanding more and more these days about the importance of mental health and how crucial that that is in each of our lives. And for a long time, that's been a real stigma. There's been real negativity attached to that idea of mental health and maybe mental illness. And I think that it's still there to some degree, but we're working through it. And I think that's a very positive thing. You touched on what I think is a crucial, crucial aspect of mental health, and that is the social aspect of mental health, and being able to just share how you're feeling with people and talk through some of those problems. I think that's very important.
Jeff Harding: And not on a social media base-
Kyle Case: (laughs) But one on one, right?
Jeff Harding: Right. Doing it on Facebook or Snapchat or whatever your personal preferred app is not really doing you much good as far as dealing with the things and having a social interconnection.
Kyle Case: It's not the same thing. That is for sure. You're listening to the Huntsman World Senior Games Active Life. And we are visiting with exercise physiologist Kevin Weston. Today we're talking about wellness strategies that matter the most. And like you said, Kevin, that the ability to understand where our stress comes from and deal with it in whatever way works best for us is a great thing that we can actually control when it comes to our overall health and wellness. What else have you got for us? That's a great one.
Kevin Weston: All these things ... I don't want to give anyone the impression of compartmentalizing [crosstalk 00:12:37], because they all overlap. But a big one that I always will use with people is getting out and move your body. Your body's designed to move, and it's this amazing machine that knows how to repair itself and to heal itself, but you have to give your body an opportunity to do that. And I think a great way to do that is through physical activity. It's through how you fuel your body with food is going to be a major component of that. So it's going to be a combination of many things. And at the Live Well Center, we can help navigate people to know if you have identified an area that you want to improve on, we can help you on your individualized journey on how to do that that's appropriate for you.
Kyle Case: And to me, it's interesting that the concept of overall health and wellness within the medical community, it's such an interesting concept. I think many of us, when we're sick or we have an injury or a disease, the first thing we think of is, "Let's go to the doctor and let's try to get this taken care of." There's a whole movement of preventative ideas, and it goes beyond once a year taking your blood pressure and listening to your heart at your annual physical, which is very important. But this whole concept of whole picture overall health and wellness, and in a lot of ways, the Intermountain organization is leading that charge, but there are resources available all across the country, and even around the world, where people can get connected in a professional setting with people who can help them approach their health and wellness in a holistic way. And I think that's exciting.
Kevin Weston: Yeah. No, absolutely. It's definitely a pro-active approach, not a reactive approach, is usually what I refer to. And even if you live someplace and maybe you're not close to services, maybe you live somewhere where it's far away from a major city. There are so many resources online that you can refer to as well in regards to exercise, nutrition, stress management, tools to help with sleep deprivation. We live in this Information Age. The challenges for most people are navigating to sort through what is evidence-based and what is just someone's opinion.
Kyle Case: And that is the challenge, right? That is oftentimes the challenge. So we talked a little bit about some of the things in our overall health and wellness strategies that we can influence. We alluded to the fact earlier in the show that there are things that we cannot influence, and sometimes we spend a lot of time worrying about that. What are some things that we can't influence that we need to just let go and focus in on those things that are within our control?
Kevin Weston: I would say age, genetics is a big one.
Jeff Harding: I can tell people I'm whatever age I want to tell them. What do you mean, I can't control my age. (laughter)
Kyle Case: You can control what you tell people your age is. That's not the exact same thing-
Jeff Harding: Oh, I see now. (laughter) [crosstalk 00:15:37]
Kyle Case: -as controlling your age. (laughs)
Kevin Weston: But I'll give you an example. There are many times when people are not as physically active as they once were, and then they start exercising and they'll say, "My goodness. I can't do what I used to do 10, 15, 20 years ago." And I tell them, "You're right-
Kyle Case: And that's okay.
Kevin Weston: -and that's okay." (laughter) You're 65, I say, "Let's be the best 65-year-old version of yourself that you can be, rather than, I'm really trying to turn back the clock and keep up with this person or that person. Don't worry about that person. Compete against yourself, and be the best version that you can be."