2 November 2010
Regular swimmers are less like to catch a cold this winter and will suffer less severe symptoms, according to new research.
In a report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, scientists from North Carolina found adults physically active on five or more days a week suffered from cold-like symptoms almost half as frequently as those exercising once a week or less.
"Exercise like swimming is fantastic for reducing stress which helps maintain a healthy body."
The study, which tracked 1,002 adults between 18 and 85-years old over a 12-week period, also found the severity of the symptoms fell by 41% for those who felt fittest and 31% for those who were the most physically active.
The researchers said the results were due to a temporary rise in immune system cells every time the body exercises which led to an increased resistance to viruses and bacteria.
Aerobic exercise and perceived fitness were the most significant factors measured while eating fruit was also linked with a lower frequency of colds.
And ASA Exercise Scientist Ian Freeman admitted eating a meal rich in protein and fibrous carbohydrates immediately after exercise was the best way to maximise immune function.
“Your immune system actually dips during exercise but then raises to a higher level over time,” said Freeman. “Exercise like swimming is fantastic for reducing stress which helps maintain a healthy body.
“But eating the right foods at the right time is also important. Lean protein is excellent for boosting your immune system function and fresh fruit and vegetables will also certainly help.”
To find out more about how a healthy diet can improve your performance in the pool and out, click here.