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Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser. 2013;76:39-50. doi: 10.1159/000350254. Epub 2013 Jul 25.

Intense exercise training and immune function.

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School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK.


Regular moderate exercise reduces the risk of infection compared with a sedentary lifestyle, but very prolonged bouts of exercise and periods of intensified training are associated with increased infection risk. In athletes, a common observation is that symptoms of respiratory infection cluster around competitions, and even minor illnesses such as colds can impair exercise performance. There are several behavioral, nutritional and training strategies that can be adopted to limit exercise-induced immunodepression and minimize the risk of infection. Athletes and support staff can avoid transmitting infections by avoiding close contact with those showing symptoms of infection, by practicing good hand, oral and food hygiene and by avoiding sharing drinks bottles and cutlery. Medical staff should consider appropriate immunization for their athletes particularly when travelling to international competitions. The impact of intensive training stress on immune function can be minimized by getting adequate sleep, minimizing psychological stress, avoiding periods of dietary energy restriction, consuming a well-balanced diet that meets energy and protein needs, avoiding deficiencies of micronutrients (particularly iron, zinc, and vitamins A, D, E, B6 and B12), ingesting carbohydrate during prolonged training sessions, and consuming - on a daily basis - plant polyphenol containing supplements or foodstuffs and Lactobacillus probiotics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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