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Exercise Alternative to Flu Vaccine

With the flu season rapidly approaching, many are concerned with the limited supply of vaccine doses available. However, researchers may have discovered an alternative method to avoiding the flu, thus eliminating the common reliance of vaccines.

Through studies, researchers attempted to discover what could be done in order to prevent illness and strengthen the immune system. The answer: regular exercise.

As simple as it may sound, regular exercise is the key to staying healthy. Using mature mice as their subjects, researchers studied how exercise protected animals against infectious challenges, such as influenza.

The Study:

  • Male mice, ages 11-20 weeks, that were infected with influenza
  • The mice were randomly assigned to exercise (EX) or remain in home cage control (HCC)
  • EX mice exercised moderately for 20-30 minutes a day for four days
  • Exercise was halted as soon as flu symptoms appeared. (This was done to mirror sickness-related behavior in humans)

The Results:

  • Survival rates of 20-week old EX mice were significantly higher than HCC mice of the same age that did not exercise
  • There was no significantly higher survival rate evident in mice ages 11-16 weeks
  • All EX mice had twice the survival rate of HCC mice

Researchers found that by exercising, mice were preventing death resulting from the illness. Yet, while exercise protected mice from mortality, researchers didn’t see any changes in the food intake or cage activity.

Future studies involve testing mice that exercise on a regular basis, rather than a mere few days. Researchers hope these studies will shed light on other issues such as the possible development of flu-specific immune cells.

SOURCE: Science Blog

Reference Source 114
January 10, 2005



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