Regular physical activity can help to boost your immune systemI is for….immunity

It’s that time of year when those familiar symptoms - headache, blocked nose and achy muscles - come flooding back to herald the start of the dreaded cold and flu season.

There is increased evidence to suggest we are more prone to catching cold through the autumn and winter months. But according to experts, regular physical activity can help to manage cold and flu in two ways. It successfully helps prepare your body to defend against foreign bacteria, and helps your body to avoid attracting the bacteria in the first place.

Dr Mark Ridgewell of the Common Cold Centre in Cardiff says, "Moderate amounts of aerobic exercise such as jogging, brisk walking and cycling during the cold and flu season will help prepare the body for an invasion of foreign bacteria by stimulating blood circulation and improving the body’s cardiac function. This assists the body’s production of macrophages – vital white cells that attack bacteria.

"Once infected, the body is more readily prepared to attack the virus quickly. So while exercise will not prevent us from catching cold and flu altogether, a person who does physical activity on a regular basis is less likely to suffer for a long period of time and doubles their chance of withstanding infection when it takes hold over homes and workplaces."

Get active because:

  • Adults in the UK will catch cold or flu at least three times a year, caused by viral infections to the nose and throat.
  • Families with young children are at increased risk of being exposed to infection. It is usual for youngsters to become infected with anything between five and seven colds a year while their immune systems are still developing.
  • Colds are spread easily, mostly by sneezing, coughing and picking up contaminated particles left on door handles, railings, telephones, light switches and TV remotes where the virus can survive for up to 18 hours.