If you want to make sure that your young children avoid contracting colds, here is a simple free precaution: Make sure that they exercise.
When they want to sit with their smartphones for hours to check their messages on social media, to watch movies, or to chat with friends, just say no.Read More »
Tell them they need to be outside, running around and getting some exercise.
Persuade them it is good for their health—and they will have fun doing so. Ask them whether they really want to be sick all the time.
You might also want to sign your children up for sports, if they are not signed up already.
By taking these simple steps you will protect them from infections of their upper respiratory tracts.
Science shows it is true
A reason we know this advice to be sound is that a new study at the Medical University of Warsaw in Poland found that children who have more daily physical activity are far less likely to contract infections of the upper respiratory tract such as the common cold.
The reason these findings are important is that respiratory tract infections continue to present significant economic problems around the world.
In the United States, upper respiratory tract infections impose an indirect and direct burden of an estimated $40 billion on the economy. They account for a tenth of all emergency department and outpatient visits.
Pre-school children—up to 6 years of age—are particularly vulnerable to these infections because their respiratory and immune systems are still immature. Even without any major chronic conditions, they suffer numerous cases of upper respiratory tract infections.
Affects quality of life
Although they get over these infections fairly quickly, and the infections are usually mild, they can impact the quality of life of the child, cause distress to the parents, and lead in the long term to family dysfunction, health care burdens, and occupational disturbances.
The most common causes of respiratory infections among children are viruses that attack the respiratory system, such as rhinoviruses, flu and flu-like viruses as well as seasonal coronaviruses.
Provides scientific proof
The beneficial impact of physical activity have been recorded, but this study confirms such benefits scientifically.
In particular, few studies have been conducted on exercise and pre-schoolers’ susceptibility to upper respiratory infections until now.
How the findings were conducted
To make their findings, the research team gathered 104 children living in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, aged between four and seven. They measured the amount of physical activity that the children undertook. To track the activity, the researchers had the children wear pedometers on their armbands all night and all day for 40 days. Over that time, they not only tracked the children’s level of activity they also checked on how long they slept.
At the same time, the parents of the children who took part in the study reported whether their children suffered any symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections—such as coughing and sneezing—over that time. They also reported on whether and how much the children took part in sport, whether they had their vaccinations, how many siblings they had, and whether they were exposed over that time to pet hair and to smoking.
The study results
After they collected the results and examined the evidence, the research team reported a strong link between regular exercise and fewer upper respiratory infections.
The team defined time spent without exercise as any behavior while awake in which a low amount of energy was spent while lying down, sitting, or sprawled out on the floor in front of a screen, reading, or sitting in a car.
Here are the team’s major conclusions:
• In pre-school children, the higher level of exercise that the children have, the fewer are the days that they suffer symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.
• Children who take part in sports for three or more hours each week have fewer infections than those who fail to take part regularly in sports.
• Children whose record of daily steps that is above average for their age have fewer days of upper respiratory tract infections over a long-term period of observation.
• If the children increase the number of steps they take each day by 1,000 the number of days that they suffer upper respiratory tract infections will be cut by four days.
• If the children reduce the number of steps they take each day by 1,000, the number of days they suffer upper respiratory tract infections will increase by four days.
• The less the degree of physical exercise undertaken by the children, the more severe were the infections.
The researchers apparently found no direct connection between other factors they studied and upper respiratory infections.
The study is published in the journal Pediatric Research.