A brisk walk a day can keep colds and flu away
A REGULAR brisk walk can keep winter colds and flu at bay, it has been claimed.
Moderate exercise strengthens the body's defences against nose and throat infections such as the common cold, flu and sinusitis.
But too much exercise might be as bad as too little for the immune system.
Different levels of exercise significantly increase or decrease the chances of catching an upper-respiratory tract infection (URTI), according to Professor Mike Gleeson, from the University of Loughborough.
Physical activity helps determine individual susceptibility to infection along with other factors such as genetics, stress, nutrition and sleep, he said.
Prof Gleeson said: "If you have a tendency to be a couch potato then you probably have an average risk of catching an infection, typically 2-3 a year.
"Research shows that those undertaking regular moderate exercise (eg, a daily brisk walk), can reduce their chance of respiratory infection by up to almost a third.
"Conversely, in periods following prolonged strenuous exercise, the likelihood of an individual becoming ill actually increases. In the weeks following a marathon, studies have reported a 2-6 fold increase in the risk of upper respiratory infection.
"The heavy training loads of endurance athletes make them more susceptible to URTIs."