Exercise Boosts the Immune System and Helps Keep You From Getting a Cold or Flu

In the beginning of the year many people decided they would start exercising to lose weight and get in better shape. But here is another reason to get moving. A study released in November of 2010 stated that exercise reduces cold and flu symptoms and makes them more mild than in people who do not. In the study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, during a 12-week period, individuals who exercised five days a week had a 43 percent lower incidence of respiratory infections than people who only exercised one day per week. While the exact reason why people who exercise regularly have fewer cold and flu symptoms is unknown, one possible reason could be increased immune activity during aerobic (cardiovascular) exercise. After exercise there is a three-hour increase in white blood cells circulating in the body and throughout the lungs. This provides extra protection that people who do not exercise as often do not get. Also, stress hormones suppress the body’s immune response. During aerobic exercise stress hormone release is lowered and the immune system has more ability to fight infection. After a few hours the immune response goes back to its normal levels but each exercise session allows the immune system to fight off infections more diligently over the course the week.

The Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey was used to capture the cold and flu symptoms. The number of times exercising per week and the fitness level was also assessed. One thousand two people were studied and in addition to having fewer sick days, the participants who exercised also had milder symptoms if they did catch a cold or flu.

The results of the study offer more proof that consistent exercise supports the overall health of the body and mind. No one likes to feel poorly or be sick so grab those sneakers and make exercise a normal part of your routine. Get the family and friends in on the action too. The family that exercises together stays healthy together.

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