Exercise as it relates to Disease/The effect of exercise on upper respiratory tract infections on subjects that are sedentary

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This is a study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine "Effect of exercise on upper respiratory tract infection in sedentary subjects' T weidner, T Schurr (2003) [1]

What is the background to this research?[edit | edit source]

Upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) are considered to be among the most common types of infections experienced by humans.[2] Per year the average adult suffers between 2 and 5 URTI's such as the common cold or influenza. Symptoms of a URTI can include:

  • coughing/sneezing
  • nasal discharge and congestion
  • fever
  • sore throat
  • nasal breathing [3]

Common advice suggests that one should rest while dealing with a URTI, although other suggest the health benefits of of moderate exercise [4]

This study assessed the effects of exercise on the severity and duration on upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) on sedentary subjects.[5]

Where is the research from?[edit | edit source]

T.Weidner and T.Schurr conducted their research at the School of physical education, Ball State University in Munice Indiana USA. The study was conducted August 2002 and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2003.

Thomas Weidner is a distinguished professor of athletic training at Ball State University, Indiana and has received various awards/honours for the contributions of his research (3). Other authors involved in the study have published various studies relating to health and respiratory conditions.

What kind of research was this?[edit | edit source]

This study is classified as a observational study given the proposal of supervised exercise sessions prescribed to half of the subjects who all completed the same level of exercise while the 2nd group was instructed to stay sedentary bar some exceptions. There is also an experimental aspect as they are manipulating one variable to determine its effect on another.

What did the research involve?[edit | edit source]

Subjects were students from Ball State University who has contracted a URTI within the preceding 3–4 days. They were interviewed about their physical activity levels and completed questionnaires about their health history and symptom severity.

The subjects were divided into two groups, group EX for the sedentary group that wouldn't complete any exercise bar some exceptions (working, study) and group NEX for the group that was prescribed supervised exercise sessions daily over the study. Activities were prescribed and supervised to ensure all of the group was doing the same level of exercise. Moderate exercise was deemed as 70% of target heart rate. Forms of exercise chosen by the subjects included:

  • Cycling
  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Stair climbing

All subjects had to report every 12 hours for the 7 consecutive days to complete a symptom severity questionnaire and activity log.

Participants were excluded if they had acute and chronic diseases e.g. asthma, immune deficiencies. Also must have completed less than 30min of exercise 2–3 days a week for the previous 3 months.

Although this approach ensures all the participants have similar health and fitness levels, the results wont convey the effects of higher levels of exercise on URTI's. People that are sedentary aren't likely to begin a exercise program while SUffering from a URTI.

What were the basic results?[edit | edit source]

Between the NEX and EX groups there was no difference overall in the mean score values for the cold symptoms over the study. In both groups the cold symptoms dropped linearly over each AM and PM reporting periods (12 hourly). There was no difference between the two groups for the mean number of days from the beginning till the subjects were asymptomatic.

The researches interpreted these results confirm current recommendations that people are able to exercise lightly while suffering from a URTI. Moderate exercise does not affect the severity of symptoms or the duration of a URTI.

What conclusions can we take from this research?[edit | edit source]

The study concludes that the researchers expectations that moderate exercise would not increase the duration or severity of symptoms of a URTI. Both EX and NEX groups became asymptomatic at approximately the same point and no significant difference in symptom severity was recorded.

The Study was conducted on a cohort consisting of participants ages 19–29 and further research would need to be conducted to observe the effects of moderate exercise on people outside that age bracket with a URTI, particularly the elderly. Results show that URTI symptoms and duration is related to energy expenditure during physcial exercise in elderly people.[6]

Further research is warranted to observe the effects of exercise on a URTI on non sedentary subjects as this is the demographic that is more likely to engage in physical exercise while suffering from a URTI. For example at the opposite end of the spectrum evidence suggests endurance athletes are at a significantly increased risk of contracting a URTI [7]

Practical advice[edit | edit source]

This study concludes that moderate exercise while suffering from a URTI will not increase the intensity or duration of symptoms deaming it safe to do so.[1] Moderate exercise as stated in the study is exercise conducted at no more than 70% of target heart rate for 30 minutes per day [1]

Examples of moderate exercise include:

  • Cycling
  • Jogging
  • Walking
  • Stair climbing

Further information/resources[edit | edit source]

Other studies related to this research:

  • The symptomatology of upper respiratory tract infections and exercise in elderly people:
  • Exercise and Upper Respiratory Tract Infections

Is There a Relationship?: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.2165/00007256-199214060-00003.pdf

  • Upper respiratory tract infections and exercise


References[edit | edit source]

  1. a b c T Weidner, Tschurr, Effect of exericse on upper respiratory tract infection in sedentary subjects, British Journal of sports medicine 2003
  2. Bucks R, Gidron Y, Harris P, Teeling J, Wesnes K, Perry H. Selective effects of upper respiratory tract infection on cognition, mood and emotion processing: A prospective study. BRAIN, BEHAVIOR, and IMMUNITY. 2008;:399–407.
  3. MedicineNet https://www.medicinenet.com/upper_respiratory_infection/article.htm
  4. [1] Exercise and Upper Respiratory Tract Infections,Gregory W. Heath, Caroline A. Macera and David C. Nieman, Sports Medicine,353-365. 1992
  5. name=T Weidner, Tschurr, Effect of exericse on upper respiratory tract infection in sedentary subjects, British Journal of sports medicine 2003
  6. [2] The symptomatology of upper respiratory tract infections and exercise in elderly people, KOSTKA, TOMASZ; BERTHOUZE, SOPHIE E.; LACOUR, JEAN-RENÉ; BONNEFOY, MARC, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 2000 - Volume 32 - Issue 1 - p 46
  7. [3] Upper respiratory tract infections and exercise David C Department of Health and Exercise Science, Appalachian State University 1995 P1229-1231