Exercise may protect kids from hay fever

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: February 15th, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

A new study says a good dose of exercise may be just what the doctor ordered to protect kids from hay fever… an allergic response to environmental substances that affects nearly forty million people in the United States, including six-point-seven million children in 2004 alone.

So say German researchers who tracked seventeen-hundred children for a dozen years and found that active children are less likely to develop the sniffly condition. In fact, children who were sedentary at the start of the study were fifty percent more likely to develop hay fever than their physically active counterparts.

Researchers examined the five- to fourteen-year-olds at the start of the study and then at least one more time over the next twelve years. During the first exam, parents described their children’s physical activity levels. Only six percent were completely sedentary; seventy-nine percent regularly played sports or exercised.

The study revealed that less active children were more than twice as likely to develop hay fever than active children… and were at higher risk of developing the allergy during the study itself.

The hay-fever-and-exercise link was strong, even when the researchers looked at other factors like exposure to cigarette smoke and pets, family history of allergies and whether a child was bottle-fed or breastfed.

Previous studies show that moderate exercise may boost immune system function, which may explain why active children have a lower hay fever risk. Whatever the reason, protecting kids from hay fever may be as easy as sending them out to play.