Can tai chi cure the common cold?
Sadly, there is no magic, instant cure for the common cold.
Depending on your immune system, plus how much time and rest you can give yourself, most people will overcome a cold virus in just over a week or so.
However, being aware of the risk factors of catching a cold and reducing those risks can help avoid or reduce the severity of a cold.
There are five broad risk factors:
- Lack of sleep
Tai chi can really help with the first three.
Sleep: Rest and getting enough sleep is vital for good health. Nearly everyone who attends my tai chi classes mentions how they always get a better night’s sleep after class. It’s not just the exercise that helps you to sleep. It’s also the calming effect of the deep breathing and the slow, smooth continuous movements of tai chi.
If you do get a cold or other illness, try to rest and sleep as much as possible as it will help with your recovery.
Stress: Relieving stress goes hand-in-hand with rest and a good night’s sleep in terms of helping to reduce the risk of catching a cold. Numerous studies and clinical trials have proven the tai chi can reduce stress
Studies at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh suggest that psychological stress can raise your risk of developing a cold. They suggest it affects how the stress hormone cortisol works. This hormone regulates inflammation in your body. When you’re under stress, cortisol may be less effective at managing your body’s inflammatory response to the cold virus. This may cause you to develop a cold. Read more about this
To minimise stress Carnegie Mellon University recommends a number of techniques, which include tai chi. Discover these techniques
Click here to read an article I wrote on how to use tai chi breathing to bust stress in just a few minutes per day.
Age: Children and older people are more at risk of getting a cold. In children, this is because their immune systems are not fully developed. In older adults, it is because their immunity levels drop as part of the ageing process. Clinical trials have concluded that regular sessions of tai chi may boost the immune systems of older adults and could also help to improve the effectiveness of vaccines, including the ‘flu vaccine. You can read more about these trials here:
- The effect of tai chi exercise on immune function in middle-aged and elderly women
- Skin problems and shingles/tai chi may boost immune system
- Tai chi gives immune system a boost
Season: Just because the weather is cold, doesn’t mean you’ll get a cold. However, you’ll probably spend more time indoors in the winter months and that means more ‘rubbing shoulders’ with other people. You can lower your risk with good hygiene like washing your hands and lower the risk to others by staying home when you are sick and covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.
Smoking: Smoking compromises your immunity levels and second-hand smoke can disrupt immunity in others. If you smoke, talk to your health professional about how to quit.
While some risk factors are hard to control, others can be managed. Regular practice of tai chi could lower your chances of catching a cold.
Read more about the risk factors for the common cold here
Related information: A cold fact: High stress can make you sick