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Effects of physical activity and sleep on cold and flue symptoms





Effects of Physical Activity and Sleep on Cold and Flu Symptoms

Sleep deprivation and physical activity have been linked to many of our health problems ranging from mental- to physical-related conditions (Wilder-Smith et al. 1031). These effects are due to the influences that sleep and exercise have on the body immunity that protect it from infections by foreign invaders. If the immune system fails to function properly, it results in many illnesses like colds and flu.

Several studies have shown a good correlation between sleep and the immune function. Sleep influences the immune system through its regulatory mechanism on the production and release of the defense cells of the body. Lack of enough sleep is associated with low T-cells and high inflammatory cytokines (Besedovsky, Tanja and Jan 121). These effects can decrease the ability of the body to fight infections, thus, increasing the risk of developing a cold or flu.

Regular exercise improves the immune system resulting in better quality of life and health outcomes. Not only does it helps the body in getting rid of the many simple bacterial and viral infections, but also improves other body functions such as the cardiovascular system. In fighting airborne diseases like flu and cold, physical activity assists in removing the disease-causing microorganisms such as rhinoviruses from the lungs. In addition, it enhances blood circulation to various parts of the body that in turn, favors distribution of immune cells throughout the body. In cases of upper respiratory infection by rhinovirus, exercise would promote the migration of T-lymphocyte to the site of infection, therefore, eliminating the causative agent (Gleeson et al. 607).

Weidner et al. (1578) conducted a study to determine how exercise influences the severity and duration of a respiratory infection caused by a rhinovirus. In their study, they used thirty-four individuals as the exercising group and sixteen as the control. Rhinovirus 16 (RV 16) was then injected into all the groups and inoculated for two days before subjecting the test group to a supervised exercise. During the period of the exercise, the concentration of the viral antibodies (biomarkers) was determined at intervals. The results showed that the duration and severity of the illness did not depend on the exercise.

However, Weidner and his colleagues observed that an exercise does not have a strong relationship with rhinovirus infection, many studies have shown that mild to moderate exercise reduce cold infections. The reduction is attributed to the improved immunity that clears the rhinovirus that causes colds.


Works Cited

Besedovsky, Luciana, Tanja Lange, and Jan Born. "Sleep and immune function." Pflügers Archiv-European Journal of Physiology 463.1 (2012): 121-137

Gleeson, Michael, et al. "The anti-inflammatory effects of exercise: mechanisms and implications for the prevention and treatment of disease." Nature Reviews Immunology 11.9 (2011): 607-615

Weidner, Thomas G., et al. "The effect of exercise training on the severity and duration of a viral upper respiratory illness." Medicine and science in sports and exercise 30.11 (1998): 1578-1583

Wilder-Smith, A., et al. "Impact of partial sleep deprivation on immune markers." Sleep medicine 14.10 (2013): 1031-1034

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