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Excercise can prevent a cold PDF Print Email
Researchers say if you excercise regularly you are less likely to catch a cold.
In a study of 1,000 people they discovered that taking excercise and staying active almost halved the chances of catching a cold and often made any colds or viruses less severe. The research was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and the experts suggest their findings could be because exercise improves the immune system which helps to fight off infections. However, it does appear that those who merely think they are fit benefit from the same lower risk without necessarily doing that much excercise.
On average an adult can expect to catch between two to five colds per year. This latest research highlights that there are lifestyle choices you can make to improve your chances of not getting them in the first place or not suffering too badly from them. The research was carried out in the US and 1,000 healthy volunteers were asked to keep a record of any coughs and colds they had over a three-month period during the autumn and winter months. The volunteers were also asked how often they would do exercise lasting at least 20 minutes and enough to break a sweat in any given week. Volunteers were also quizzed about lifestyle, diet and any associated stressful events, as these can all affect a person's immune system.
Eating plenty of fruit helped to reduce the number of colds experienced but also being older, male and married seemed to reduce the frequency as well. However, the most significant factors that reduced the number of colds was how much exercise a person did and how fit they perceived themselves to be.
Taking regular excercise, being active and feeling fit cut the risk of having a cold by nearly 50%. People who did little or no excercise were unwell with a cold for nine days in a three-month period, but people who were physically active on five or more days of the week only suffered for five days of the same period. Significantly, even when they were ill, they suffered less with their symptoms and the effects of a cold. The severity of symptoms fell by 41% among those who felt the fittest and by 31% among those who were the most active.
The research was lead by Dr David Nieman, from Appalachian State University in North Carolina, and his team, who say periods of exercise cause a temporary rise in immune system cells circulating around the body that can fight off foreign invaders. Although these levels fall back within a few hours, each session is likely to provide an immune boost to fight off infections like the common cold.
Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: "This is yet more evidence for doing exercise. It reflects what we have believed for some time.
"Exercise makes us feel better and now here's more evidence that it is good for us."