Exercise Curbs Colds, Even Cancer
Moderate, regular activity is like a 'drug' that boosts immune system
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2010 11:10 AM CST
A gym.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Some benefits of exercise are less visible than weight loss and muscle mass, but no less tangible. In fact, the most awesome effects of physical activity are measured by what doesn’t happen: A brisk walk five times a week has been shown to ward off respiratory infections, and regular exercise appears to lower the risk of breast cancer in some women. “If there were a drug with the same benefits as exercise,” a doctor tells the Wall Street Journal, “it would instantly be the standard of care.”

Researchers surmise that exercise stimulates the immune system, and can have a cumulative effect. “No pill or nutritional supplement has the power of near-daily moderate activity in lowering the number of sick days people take,” one says. Many believe exercise should be linked to overall health, rather than obesity reduction, as even slim people reap the benefits of activity. “We need to refocus the national message on physical activity,” the doctor says, “which can have a bigger impact on health than losing weight.”