Maintaining a healthy lifestyle involves several measures being taken, like physical activity and not smoking. Researchers in China investigated whether exercise levels or being an active or passive smoker affect the risk of catching the common cold.
Previous studies have reported physical activity and smoking to be associated with the severity and duration of the common cold. However, very few studies have been recorded regarding an association between the frequency of leisure-time exercise, cigarette smoking, and the common cold in a cold climate.
In this Jilin Province of Northeastern China, researchers conducted a cross-sectional study on individuals who had done a routine health examination. The data they collected focused on how many times the participants had the common cold, their leisure-time exercise frequency, and cigarette smoking status. The researchers collected data regarding to the previous year utilizing a self-administered questionnaire to a total of 1,413 employees with an age range of 38 to 90 years, with 44% reported as male participants.
As published in the BMC Public Health, the research analysis focused on the association of how often the participants participated in leisure-time exercises or smoked cigarettes, compared to the frequency of the common cold.
The data analysis revealed that 80% had experienced the common cold in the past year. Passive smokers, those who don’t smoke themselves but are exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke, had experienced the common cold at least 1.59% more than non-smokers. However, there was no statistical significance relation observed regarding those currently smoking and the common cold. High-frequency leisure-time exercise, for three days or more per week, showed a 26% reduced risk of having the common cold, when compared to those who had less than four days per month of leisure-time exercises.
The researchers stated that it appeared although not obvious, that there was a protective effect of high-frequency leisure-time exercise for passive and active smokers. What is certain is that passive smokers have a higher risk of the common cold. However, with high levels of leisure-time exercise, the common cold was reported less than once. High levels of exercise seemed to protect against the risk of catching a cold.
Written by Dr. MòNique J. Grant Coke, DNP, MPH, BSN, Medical Writer
Reference: Zhou, G., Liu, H., He, M., Yue, M., Gong, P., Wu, F., Li, X., Pang, Y., Yang, X., Ma, J., Liu, M., Li, J., & Zhang, X. (2018). Smoking, leisure-time exercise and frequency of self- reported common cold among the general population in northeastern China: a cross sectional study. BMC Public Health, 18:294 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5203-5