’Tis the season for sniffles, sore throats, coughs and headaches. Fear not, suggests a recent study. According to one researcher from Appalachian State University, it may be possible to ward off those winter woes with regular exercise. Published online, November 1, in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2010.077875), the study analyzed daily logs of more than 1,000 individuals aged 18–85 for 12 weeks during fall and winter months. Participants jotted down any upper-respiratory-tract infection (URTI) symptoms they experienced, as well as their cardiovascular activity and self-determined fitness levels. As suspected, those who exercised more frequently experienced fewer URTI symptoms. Subjects exercising 5 or more days during the week were 43% less likely to experience symptoms than those exercising less than 1 day per week. The frequent exercisers also reported that their symptoms were less severe.

“Perceived physical fitness and frequency of aerobic exercise are important correlates of reduced days with URTI and severity of symptoms during the winter and fall common cold seasons,” concluded the study authors.