People who exercise regularly appear to be less likely than sedentary people to catch colds, US researchers report.
They surveyed 547 healthy adults, administered at regular intervals over the course of a year. During the study period, the participants noted how many colds they had experienced, and how often they engaged in moderate physical activity.
The average adult develops between two and five colds each year. However, people who reported being the most active had 25% fewer colds over the course of a year, relative to those who were the least active.
Previous studies have suggested that extremely low or high levels of activity can have negative effects on the immune system, thereby increasing the risk of developing colds. For example, people who run a marathon appear to have a significantly higher risk of a cold during the week after the race than non-runners.
However, moderate levels of activity may actually enhance the body's immune function.
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