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Can intense exercise bring on a cold?

Adam Cohen and Dr. Rod McEver

Adam’s Journal

Can exercise — and especially long and intense sessions like running — compromise our immune systems?

I recently ran a marathon. Memory is a tricky thing, but if mine serves me right, I’ve often gotten sick soon after similar efforts. Can exercise — and especially long and intense sessions — compromise our immune systems?

Dr. McEver Prescribes

For decades, many endurance researchers, coaches and athletes (and, as one writer on the subject wryly noted, athletes’ mothers) have believed that a long, hard distance race can leave the body so spent that it can no longer ward off colds, flu and other pathogens.

Indeed, studies had even found that a disproportionate number of marathoners and ultramarathoners reported coming down with colds in the wake of races.

However, in 2018, a review of studies about endurance exercise and immunity laid this notion to rest.

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