The Secret to Shrugging Off Colds

Medically reviewed in February 2020

You know the type. Everyone else is dropping like flies from the latest bug, but there's that one person who never seems fazed by it.

Know what her secret is? Look under her desk. You'll probably see a pair of walking shoes at the ready. A new study revealed that people who exercise regularly experience shorter, less severe cold symptoms compared with sedentary folks.

Sweating Away Colds
The study followed about 1,000 adults for a 12-week period during either the fall or the winter cold-catching season, comparing their health to their fitness track record. And analyses showed that the people who broke a sweat for 20 minutes at least five times a week spent 43 percent less time being sick compared with the exercise slackers. The active folks' cold symptoms also tended to be about a third less severe.

Buffed-Up Immunity
How does a good sweat make people more immune to colds? It's all about aerobic exercise. This type of exercise seems to ramp up blood levels of neutrophils and natural killer cells, two cell types critical to immune system operations. In fact, a single bout of aerobic exercise can boost immunity for hours, making your body better guarded and more resilient. So keep those walking shoes handy. And try these other strategies for shrugging off colds:

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