Cold comfort

With winter around the corner, you may want to pay attention to the findings of a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The results suggest that those who exercise regularly appear to have less frequent and milder colds.

The research team analyzed 1,002 men and women, ranging from ages 18 to 85 over a period of 12 weeks in the fall and winter of 2008. In addition to monitoring their health, the participants reported the types and amount of exercise they did weekly, as well as disclosing other factors, such as dietary patterns and stressful events.

The frequency of colds among those who exercised at least five days a week was up to 46 percent less than those who exercised only one day a week or not at all, HealthDay reports. The number of days with cold symptoms was also shortened – 41 percent lower for those who exercise at least five days a week. The severity of cold symptoms decreased by 41 percent among those who felt the most physically fit, and by 31 percent among those who were the most physically active.

As lead study author David C. Nieman, Director of the Human Performance Laboratory in North Carolina told the Chicago Tribune:

“At least 20 minutes per session, five or more days a week – rises above all other lifestyle factors in lowering sick days during the winter and fall cold seasons.”

Even though multiple factors that could potentially affect susceptibility to colds were taken into account, researchers did report a number of limitations to the study. These include lack of controlling all variables that can affect a cold, such as exposure to germs in the workplace or from children in the home.

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