Keeping Kids Active May Hold Off Colds

Medscape Staff

April 04, 2023

Keeping children physically active may help them avoid upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs), including the common cold, according to researchers at the Medical University of Warsaw.

What to Know

  • By comparing the physical activity levels of children aged 4 to 7 years and their susceptibility to symptoms of URTIs, it was observed that the more active the child, the lower the rate of infections.

  • Pedometers helped measure the activity levels of children. Those with a higher average daily step count experienced fewer days with URTIs over a long-term observation period.

  • A change in the average number of steps per day up, or a decrease of even 1000 steps, was associated with a comparable change in symptoms of respiratory infections by 4 days. The severity of URTIs was inversely related to the degree of physical activity.

  • Children participating in 3 or more hours of sport activities per week tended to experience fewer days with URTIs than those who did not regularly participate in sports.

  • The researchers speculate that higher physical activity levels could help reduce infection risk in children by reducing levels of inflammatory cytokines, which are associated with chronic inflammation and disease, and by promoting immune responses involving T-helper cells.

This is a summary of the article "Association of Low Physical Activity With Higher Respiratory Tract Infections Frequency Among Pre-School Children," published in the journal Pediatric Research on January 24, 2023. The full article can be found on

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