Regular exercise is one of the most powerful tools to prevent colds and flu — so much so that working out just three days a week can help fend off as many as four colds a year. How? Exercise bolsters the immune system in three ways, according to Josef Brandenburg, a D.C.-area fitness expert with 14 years of experience and co-author of “Results Fitness”:
- When you run, power walk or cycle, you breathe more deeply and fully, and it is thought that this helps flush out your lungs, which makes you more resistant to infections.
- When stress hormones, such as cortisol, go sky high, they suppress the immune function. Exercise keeps those stress hormones in balance.
- Exercise alters a type of white blood cell called T-cells so they are better at fighting disease.