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J Infect Dis. 2009 Nov 1;200(9):1434-42. doi: 10.1086/606014.

Chronic exercise reduces illness severity, decreases viral load, and results in greater anti-inflammatory effects than acute exercise during influenza infection.

Author information

  • 1Department of Immunobiology, College of Human Sciences, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa 50011-1160, USA. mkohut@iastate.edu

Erratum in

  • J Infect Dis. 2009 Dec 15;200(12):1949. Yoon, Kyoungjin J [corrected to Yoon, Kyoung-Jin].



It is assumed that moderate exercise may improve resistance to infection and reduce inflammation, but there are limited data to support this assumption in an infection model.


BALB/cJ mice were assigned to the following groups: no exercise (NON-EX), 1 session of acute exercise (A-EX), or chronic exercise for approximately 3.5 months (C-EX). Mice were infected with influenza (C-EX mice infected at rest; A-EX mice infected 15 min after exercise).


C-EX mice demonstrated the lowest severity of infection, assessed by body weight loss and food intake. There was less virus in the lungs at day 5 after infection in C-EX and A-EX mice compared with NON-EX mice (P = .02) and less virus at day 2 after infection only in C-EX mice (P = .07). Soon after infection (day 2), interleukin 6 (IL-6), monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), macrophage inflammatory protein 1beta, and tumor necrosis factor alpha in the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid were lower in C-EX and A-EX than in NON-EX mice. At day 5 after infection, the BAL fluid from C-EX (but not A-EX) mice had less IL-6, interleukin 12p40, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, keratinococyte-derived chemokine, and MCP-1 than that from NON-EX mice. A trend toward reduced immunopathologic response was found in C-EX mice.


Chronic exercise resulted in reduced symptoms, virus load, and levels of inflammatory cytokine and chemokines. Acute exercise also showed some benefit, which was limited to the early phase of infection.

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