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.
- 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
- Exercise was halted as soon as flu symptoms appeared.
(This was done to mirror sickness-related behavior in humans)
- 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 didnt 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.