Moderate-Intensity Exercise Reduces the Incidence of Colds Among Postmenopausal Women



      Our aim was to assess the effect of a moderate-intensity, year-long exercise program on the risk of colds and other upper respiratory tract infections in postmenopausal women.


      A total of 115 overweight and obese, sedentary, postmenopausal women in the Seattle area participated.


      Participants were randomly assigned to the moderate-intensity exercise group or the control group. The intervention consisted of 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise 5 days per week for 12 months. Control participants attended once-weekly, 45-minute stretching sessions. Questionnaires asking about upper respiratory tract infections in the previous 3 months were administered quarterly during the course of the year-long trial. Poisson regression was used to estimate the effect of exercise on colds and other upper respiratory tract infections.


      Over 12 months, the risk of colds decreased in exercisers relative to stretchers (P = .02): In the final 3 months of the study, the risk of colds in stretchers was more than threefold that of exercisers (P = .03). Risk of upper respiratory tract infections overall did not differ (P = .16), yet may have been biased by differential proportions of influenza vaccinations in the intervention and control groups.


      This study suggests that 1 year of moderate-intensity exercise training can reduce the incidence of colds among postmenopausal women. These findings are of public health relevance and add a new facet to the growing literature on the health benefits of moderate exercise.


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