Can you get sick from exercise?

Common wisdom says that exercise is good for you in a lot of ways.  Medical research has shown that exercise improves the function of virtually every organ and system including immune performance. This most recent study confirms these general ideas, but adds a little nuance considering very intense exercise.

If you’re an elite competitive athlete and have noticed that you often seem to come down with a case of the ‘sniffles’ after your biggest races, you may now have some answers.

Some research shows an observed increase in upper respiratory infections in athletes.  This was found to be related to a short term depression of the immune system after very intense exercise and the effects are worse if there is an insufficient recovery period. Preventing a race-day setback only requires a few simple steps: Use basic hygiene, Avoid crowds and sick people to decrease exposure to infectious agents.  Allow a full recovery period between workouts including enough sleep and stay nutritionally complete to keep your body ready to defend itself. 


F. Ashton Taylor, MS4, MWU AZCOM

Dave Carfagno, CO, CAQSM Scottsdale Sports Medicine


Gleeson, Michael, PhD, ‘Effects of Exercise on Immune Function’, Sports Science Exchange. 2015; 28(151):1-6