Stay fit : No more sniffles with exercise

NEW YORK: Moderate exercise like just a 30-minute brisk walking every day can help women reduce their sniffling and sneezing during winter, says a study, although further research will be needed to confirm these results.

The results, experts say, emerge from a yearlong clinical trial that looked at the effects of moderate exercise on fighting the common cold, reported online edition of WebMD. Cornelia Ulrich of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and other researchers divided 115 previously overweight or obese and sedentary postmenopausal women into two groups. They were all non-smoking women.

One half was asked to engage in moderate exercise for 45 minutes a day, five days a week. Among the exercise group, brisk walking was the activity of choice for most of the women. The other half of the women acted as a comparison group and participated in a 45-minute stretching session once a week.

The women recorded their exercise habits and any episodes of allergies, colds and other upper respiratory infections, like flu. The results published in The American Journal of Medicine showed the risk of colds decreased among exercisers and increased modestly among the non-exercisers. Ulrich says regular exercise in moderation, such as 30 to 45 minutes of brisk walking, appears to be the key. Other studies have shown that excessive, exhaustive exercise can deplete the immune system and increase the risk of colds.

“It’s been shown just a 30-minute walk can increase levels of leukocytes, which are part of the family of immune cells that fight infection,” Ulrich says, which may help explain the protective effect found in the study.