Does Running Keep You From Getting Sick?
Important: Running on its own will not keep you or others around you from becoming sick. Even if you experience no symptoms, you can still spread infections so all other relevant advice should still be followed. For the most up to date health advice, visit https://www.health.gov.au/
According to a study carried out by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, people that exercise more than five times a week had a 43% lower risk of an upper respiratory tract infection – in other words, the common cold or flu.
The study found that people with a high fitness level experienced a reduced number of days experiencing an upper respiratory tract infection as well as a reduced severity of symptoms.
If exercising more than five times a week sounds unachievable, there’s good news. Each exercise session only had to consist of at least 20 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise for the benefits to be seen. 5K run anyone?
Dr David Nieman Ph.D., professor and director of the Human Performance Lab at Appalachian State University and the North Carolina Research Campus, carried out a similar study (published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine). The study found that 45 minutes of brisk exercise carried out 5 days a week caused sickness rates to drop by half.
The main reason stems from an increased circulation of white blood cells (immune cells) during exercise and up to three hours after.
A good anology for a healthy circulation of immune cells is like your body having police officers out patrolling the streets and ready for action rather than sitting at the donut shop, not knowing what's going on.
But wait there’s a catch! Studies have also shown that the immune system only responds positively up to about 75 minutes of exertion. After that time, stress hormones rise, and it begins to have an adverse effect on the immune system.
This explains why we are so vulnerable to falling sick after Marathons and other strenuous long-distance races.
The conclusion: Running on it's own will not keep you from getting sick if you neglect other health practices. However, it can put you in a much better position to fight any infections you might encounter.
Frequency, intensity and duration of activity is key to boosting the immune system and remaining healthy.
Aim to train at least five times a week, at a moderate intensity for between 20 minutes and 75 minutes to ensure your body is in fighting shape to help beat infections that may come your way.
Important: Running alone will not keep you or others around you from becoming sick. Even if you experience no symptoms, you can still spread infections so all other relevant advice should still be followed. For the most up to date health advice, visit https://www.health.gov.au/