The best defense against the cold and flu is at least three hours of physical activity per day, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. Active kids are healthier than more sedentary children.

Exercise has a positive impact on the immune system.

Moderate exercise and physical activity enhance immunity and also reduce the rate of upper respiratory infections. In contrast, both stress and obesity suppress the immune system.

The Research Doesn’t Lie!

Thomas J. Cieslek, a researcher at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, analyzed the immunity, physical fitness levels, stress levels, and body fat in a group of fifth-grade children.

May to June is a moderate-high infection season in Canada. This is when the study took place.

Cieslek found that 22% of the boys and 32% of the girls did not get three hours of physical activity per day. These children had a significantly lowered immune system, more body fat and also reported more sick days than active children.

In addition, 40% of the inactive children had more than 25% body fat. These children reported more colds and flu than other children in the study.

Based on the results of the study, Cieslek recommends that parents improve the health of their children by getting them involved in regular physical activity.

SOURCE: Journal of Applied Physiology, December 2003, Vol. 95, pp. 2315-2320; WebMD Health, www.my.webmd.com, December 23, 2003

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