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A woman holding a man's feet as he tries to do sit upsThe average adult has two to three respiratory infections each year. That number jumps to six or seven for young children. Whether or not you get sick with a cold after being exposed to a virus depends on many factors that affect your immune system. Old age, cigarette smoking, mental stress, poor nutrition and lack of sleep have all been associated with impaired immune function and increased risk of infection.

Can regular exercise help keep your immune system in good shape? Researchers are just now supplying some answers to this new and exciting question.

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Fitness enthusiasts have frequently reported that they experience less sickness than their sedentary peers. For example, a survey conducted during the ’80s revealed that 61 percent of 700 recreational runners reported fewer colds since they began running, while only 4 percent felt they had experienced more.

Further research has shown that during moderate exercise, several positive changes occur in the immune system. Various immune cells circulate through the body more quickly, and are better able to kill bacteria and viruses. Once the moderate exercise bout is over, the immune system returns to normal within a few hours.

In other words, every time you go for a brisk walk, your immune system receives a boost that should increase your chances of fighting off cold viruses over the long term.

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