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Exercise may reduce flu risk

March 17, 2014

Spring may be just around the corner, but with the arrival of warmer weather comes the increased risk of contracting seasonal illnesses. While the winter is typically associated with heightened flu risk, seniors are susceptible to the disease during seasonal changes. According to, seniors are more likely to contract the flu than their younger counterparts. To protect themselves, older adults can consume proper diets, including plenty of fruits and vegetables that can provide nutrients essential for strengthening the immune system. Another way in which people can fight against the flu is by participating in regular exercise, according to a recent survey conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the results of which were highlighted in a recent BBC News article. 

Studies reveal reduced flu risk 
Each year, the Flu Survey examines the reach of the illness and factors that may contribute to its contraction. According to the source, this past season saw the lowest number of reported flu illnesses, with only 4.7 percent of respondents testing positive. This year, the data indicated that one of the greatest influences on the lowered flu rate may have been exercise, as those who responded that they participated in at least two and a half hours of vigorous exercise each week were less likely to have symptoms. This type of physical activity included running, playing recreational sports or cycling. Dr. Alma Adler of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine recommended that people participate in these activities to improve their health.

"Although many people have dodged the flu bullet this winter, flu can occur at any time, so taking advantage of the better weather is a great opportunity to get out and get fit to ward off flu this spring," Adler said, as quoted by BBC News.

The American College of Sports Medicine reported that people who walk or run several times per week experienced shorter periods of illness than those who remained inactive. The organization conducted a study in which the health of two groups of women was examined: those who walked daily and those who did little to no exercise. Researchers found that the women who frequently walked were only sick about half as many days as women who did not. 

Ways seniors can protect themselves 
In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle for seniors by remaining physically active, older adults should be conscious of the additional ways in which they can improve their health. recommends that people should not only get the flu vaccination, but they should also take precautionary measures when fighting against the virus, such as washing their hands regularly and avoiding contact with people who have the illness.