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Does Running Stop You Getting Sick?

Nov 6, 2016 | Uncategorized | 4 comments

Sitting on the train on Thursday, I couldn’t help but be grossed out notice how many people were coughing, sneezing and sniffing. Cold season is here…

A lot of hand sanitizer was applied during that 45min journey.

It had me thinking, other than a flu jab, healthy eating and regular hand washing (especially after commuting!!) – could running actually reduce my risk of getting sick this winter?

Can running stop you getting sick?

According to this study by the British Journal Sports Medicine, people that exercise more than five times a week had a 43% lower risk of an upper respiratory tract infection (science speak for the common cold/flu) and those who performed at a high vs low aerobic activity had an even lower risk.

Basically, the fitter you are, the less days you’re likely to suffer from an URTI. And it only had to be 20 mins of moderate aerobic exercise to experience a benefit.

Can running stop you getting sick?

“Exercise is the most powerful weapon that an individual has in their hand to reduce illness days.”

  • Exercise boosts circulation of white blood cells- these are the immune systems ‘killer cells’.
  • Increased immune activity following exercise lasts for only three hours, but cumulative exercise improves protection adds up, helping protect you from viruses, and fight them when you do get sick. Frequency is key.
  • Endorphins make you happy, happy people don’t get sick. Runner’s high has positive effects on the immune system.
  • As runners, we are more likely to lead overall healthier lives, reducing our risk of getting ill, however it is physical activity that makes the most difference.
  • Getting outside and being in nature also improves your ‘virus and tumour fighting white blood cells’. Studies have also shown that being outside has ‘healing properties’ linked to natural light exposure and contact with nature.

Aside from exercising regularly, other factors that can help reduce your risk of a cold, are being male (according to this study anyway), being married, and eating plenty of fruit.

Can running help you stop getting sick?

As well as upping my intake of fruit, planning a wedding (!) and training for multiple marathons, I’ve also been increasing my sleep, and taking a daily immunity vitamin – the Alive! Immune Support containing a unique blend of 26 dried fruits and vegetables to provide Vitamins A, B6, C, D & Zinc which contribute to the normal functioning of the immune system. Plus they taste good, with a natural fruit berry flavour – I eat mine while waiting for my Nespresso coffee machine.

Alive Vitamins

They’re kindly giving away 20 packs to 10 Runner Beans readers so you too can help improve your immunity and keep you running all winter long…

To enter to win simply like this picture on Instagram (whoops, I have now linked to the picture!!) and leave a comment about what your favourite winter exercise is. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram while you’re there.

If you’re not on Instagram, don’t worry, simply leave your answer in the comments below or share this blog post for a chance of winning – don’t forget to tag me!

For a limited time only, Alive! Soft Jells are available direct for just £9.99 (vs RRP £14.99) and with the code RUNNERB you can save another £2 off each pack – so that’s nearly half price here. 


  1. Pippa @ Pip in Motion

    I had no idea about the immunity benefits of running! I think during marathon training I’m more prone to getting sick, but on a regular off-season I’m in much better shape and don’t feel so unwell 🙂

  2. Jill @ RunEatSnap

    I think there’s some research that endurance exercise, running in particular, at a high level (i.e. overtraining) can increase your risk of getting sick as well. Definitely have to find that balance! I sometimes get sick after I finish training for a big race. It’s like my body knows the goal is done and it can now let down it’s defenses!

    • charlotte

      Yes completely agree – rest and recovery and not overtraining definitely needs to be considered otherwise you can definitely increase your risk of illness!

  3. Toby Gibbs

    I am a fair weather runner thats for sure! From personal experience a little too much exercise, particularly in the colder months has lead to me actually feeling worse off (typical cold symptoms).

    As the cold weather roles in I’ve enjoyed staying fit and healthy using indoor equipment, particularly the rowing machine. Of course, this is personal preference.

    An interesting point about being male.. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones 🙂


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