Colds in children: significant physical activity would reduce the risk of respiratory infections

Notice to young parents who would like their cherubs not to spend the winter with a drop in their nose. A new study suggests thata high level of physical activity would reduce the risk of respiratory infections in children.

Published in the specialized journal Pediatric Research (Source 1), the study was conducted between 2018 and 2019 with 104 Polish children between the ages of 4 and 7 living in the vicinity of Warsaw. The children wore a pedometer as an armband around the clock for 40 days to measure their activity level and sleep duration. Parents told researchers symptoms of upper respiratory infections in their children (cough, runny nosesneezing…), via daily questionnaires completed for 60 days. The children’s vaccinations were also taken into account, as well as their participation in sports clubs, the presence or absence of siblings, exposure to tobacco and animal hair.

The more we move, the less we fly?

Result: Researchers found that as the children’s daily average number of steps increased by 1,000, the number of days they showed signs of respiratory infection decreased by an average of 4.1 days. Clear, the more steps they took, the fewer days they had with symptoms. Children doing at least 3 hours of sport per week tended to be less ill than those who did not practice regular physical activity.

In detail, for the 47 children who took 5,668 steps on average during the first two weeks of the study, 947 days of symptoms were recorded in total during the six weeks of follow-up. For the 47 children accumulating 9,386 steps during the same period, 724 days of symptoms were recorded. On the other hand, no link has been identified between the presence of respiratory symptoms and the fact of being exposed to tobacco, animal hair, having siblings or according to the duration of sleep.

The authors hypothesize that high levels of physical activity could reduce levels of cytokines, these proteins associated with inflammation, and promote a better immune response of the body against winter viruses.

Cautious, they recall that this study is onlyobservational : it highlights a correlation and not a scientifically substantiated cause and effect relationship. Further studies should be conducted to reinforce these data.

That said, given that it is advisable to engage in regular physical activity for many other aspects of our physical and mental health, we can only advise parents to encourage their children to move more, despite the winter chill.

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