A new study suggests that regular, moderate exercise can reduce the risk of colds in postmenopausal women.
The year-long study examined 115 sedentary, overweight, postmenopausal women, none of whom smoked or took hormone-replacement therapy.
Half were assigned to an aerobic exercise group and half only attended a weekly stretching class. It was the first randomized clinical trial investigating the relationship between physical activity and the common cold.
By the study's end, the women who exercised regularly had half the risk of colds of those who didn't work out. The ability of moderate exercise to ward off colds seemed to grow the longer it was used. The enhanced immunity was strongest in the final quarter of the year-long exercise program, suggesting that it is important to stick with exercise long term to get the full effects.
Colds are a leading cause of doctor visits and missed days from work and school. Americans suffer from approximately 1 billion colds per year, or about two to four colds per year for all adults.