Good news for couch potatoes: A few weeks ago the New YorkTimes touted the advantages of a high protein, high fatdiet, so you can go ahead and bring home those fast foodburgers. Now scientists say that early morning exerciseweakens your immune system and makes you more vulnerable toinfections.

Dr. Lygeri Dimitriou, of Brunel University in the U.K., hasfound levels of body chemicals strongly associated with theimmune system are different depending on the time of day.She looked at 14 male swimmers, all about age 18, whoregularly trained at 6 am, which is the time seriousathletes are often in the pool. She tested their levels ofthe stress hormone cortisol, which is known to suppressimmune activity, and another chemical called IgA, which isfound in saliva and in the nose and is the ?first line ofdefense? against bacteria and viruses.

Dimitriou found their cortisol levels were highest in theearly morning, and their workouts actually increased it.Their IgA rates were lower in the morning. With lower immunesystem activity and lower IgA protection, the early morningswimmers were more vulnerable to infection. If they train athigh altitudes, there?s an increased threat, as this isknown to suppress the immune system. She says, “I wouldadvise athletes to avoid training in the morning under thesecircumstances, but things won’t be so bad for someone who isjust going for a morning jog.”

Exercise your mind: stay in bed and read. Learn all aboutthe ?Secrets of the Ancient Incas? from Michael PeterLangevin,clickhere.

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