A trip to the gym could lower your chance of catching the flu

Doing vigorous exercise for at least two-and-a-half hours a week can reduce your chances of experiencing a flu-like illness by around 10 per cent, according to an online flu study conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

The findings suggest that 100 cases of flu per 1,000 people could be prevented just by engaging in vigorous exercise. No differences were found in rates of flu-like illness based on the amount of moderate exercise reported.

“Physical activity is a great way to boost our immune system in an effort to prevent the flu and/or speed up recovery,” notes certified exercise physiologist Marc Faktor.

Researchers are still determining the ways in which exercise may enhance immune functioning, but what is known is that exercise improves circulation. That helps the disease-fighting white-blood cells move freely throughout the body to combat invading pathogens.

The World Health Organization defines “vigorous” exercise as requiring a great amount of effort and causing rapid breathing and a substantial increase in heart rate. Examples include running, fast cycling or swimming, and competitive sports such as basketball and hockey.

And don't forget, be sure to check with your health professional before starting any new fitness program.