How Vigorous Exercise May Cut Flu Risk

Working up a sweat through regular, vigorous exercise could reduce risk of flu by around 10%, research suggests.

Doing at least 2.5 hours a week of activity such as running, fast cycling or rugby was found to reduce flu or flu-like illness. Where as more gentle pursuits, such as walking or light jogging, were found to have little effect.

Experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine examined data from its online flu study, Flusurvey.

They found overall flu levels across the UK appear to be down on last year, with the flu season apparently curbed by a lack of illness among children and young people.

Over the winter flu season, 4.7% of people were believed to have flu compared to 6% the previous year.

Some 5% of children were reported to have flu, compared to almost 8% the previous year.

More than 4,800 people have taken part in this year's Flusurvey so far.

Dr Alma Adler, research fellow at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "We're really interested in the preliminary findings around fitness activity and flu-like illness, as exercise is something that everyone can do to reduce your chance of having flu.

"We need to treat this result cautiously as these are preliminary findings, however they are consistent with findings for other conditions and really show the health benefits of exercise.

"Although many people have dodged the flu bullet this winter, flu can occur at any time, so taking advantage of the better weather is a great opportunity to get out and get fit to ward off flu this spring."