Fighting disease with exercise

July 13 – 14, 2019

July 13, 2019

I made a house call on my neighbor-friend, Carleen, who was complaining of generalized joint pains, fever and malaise.  I diagnosed her as having flu and advised her what to do – rest, exercise, oral fluid, and paracetamol only if necessary.  Then, I told her for the past four days, I myself have been experiencing symptoms of flu (malaise, sore throat, cough, hoarseness of voice, wet nose, etc.). I felt I was exposed to the virus of a patient with severe flu who had lost her voice and with severe cough and running nose.  When my symptoms started four days ago, I was praying and hoping they would not progress to a more severe degree.  I thought of continuing my daily exercise – walking and stretching and flexing exercise as a strategy to control my flu.  There were days (about 2 days only) that I lessened the amount and length of my usual exercise regimen.  There were days in which I thought of stopping my exercise regimen (I thought of justifying to my FB followers the reason for breaking my daily exercise regimen – to tell them I was sick – which they will readily accept).  However, I told myself, I will continue to exercise to fight off the disease or flu.

In the past 4 or 5 years (circa 2015), I have been claiming that my daily exercise help me in warding off flu.  I usually have one to two bouts of moderate to severe flu per year before 2015.  After I went on daily exercise, there were years that I have zero bouts of flu.  In the years that I had flu, the symptoms were usually mild and I usually continue my daily exercise though to a lesser amount and length.  I have acquired a mind-set that my daily exercise is my way of preventing and fighting diseases, flu in particular.  That is a reason why I don’t subscribe to anti-flu vaccination.  I would recommend exercise over anti-flu vaccination to patients who trust my advices.

Going back to Carleen, I told her that I am using and continuing my daily exercises to fight my flu and to prevent it from progressing.  For the past 4 past days, I have been successful and succeeding.  My flu symptoms are very very mild and they are disappearing now.  I can still operate and hold clinic without any hindrance from my flu. I can still blog and run errands for my wife.

I left Carleen’s house with the repeated and emphasized advice, not to go for complete bed rest despite the joint pains and fever, but to continue to do some amount of exercise such as walking as able to.

July 14, 2019

Morning, while having breakfast with my daughter, I asked her to comment if I were to say “you can fight a disease, especially flu, with exercise.”

I was surprised to hear a very supportive answer.  She said, “Yes, you can. In our high school and college days, me and my friends (she mentioned Tip-tip) would run when we would feel sick.  Our reason is to shed off the virus.”

Wow, this reaction from my daughter alone validates my hypothesis that you can fight off a disease, especially flu.  Aside from flu, you can fight arthritis with exercise.  There are still others reported in the literature, which I will look up in the near future.

Exercise is known and proven to have health benefits such as longevity, prevention of cancer, hypertension, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, etc.

However, my focus of discussion here in this particular blog is: whether exercise can and should be used and prescribed as a treatment for a disease, especially flu and arthritis.  

I have done this (documented) and my daughter has been this.  I will look for more literature to support my stand.


Found this article to support my stand:

Exercise as a prescription for patients with various diseases


Exercise can be used as an active intervention for the rehabilitationof various diseases.

Exercise therapy could exert positive effects on alleviating the symptoms and improving the physical performance of patients who suffer from these diseases.

Exercise prescriptions could provide guidance for patients to engage in suitable physical activities to promote rehabilitation and physical function.


A growing understanding of the benefits of exercise over the past few decades has prompted researchers to take an interest in the possibilities of exercise therapy. Because each sport has its own set of characteristics and physiological complications that tend to occur during exercise training, the effects and underlying mechanisms of exercise remain unclear. Thus, the first step in probing the effects of exercise on different diseases is the selection of an optimal exercise protocol. This review summarizes the latest exercise prescription treatments for 26 different diseases: musculoskeletal system diseases (low back pain, tendon injury, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and hip fracture), metabolic system diseases (obesity, type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease), cardio-cerebral vascular system diseases (coronary artery disease, stroke, and chronic heart failure), nervous system diseases (Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and anxiety disorders), respiratory system diseases (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, interstitial lung disease, and after lung transplantation), urinary system diseases (chronic kidney disease and after kidney transplantation), and cancers (breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer). Each exercise prescription is displayed in a corresponding table. The recommended type, intensity, and frequency of exercise prescriptions are summarized, and the effects of exercise therapy on the prevention and rehabilitation of different diseases are discussed.


Found another article:

Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults

  1. David C Nieman1,
  2. Dru A Henson2,
  3. Melanie D Austin1,
  4. Wei Sha3


Objective Limited data imply an inverse relationship between physical activity or fitness level and the rates of upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). The purpose of this study was to monitor URTI symptoms and severity in a heterogeneous group of community adults and contrast across tertiles of physical activity and fitness levels while adjusting for potential confounders.

Design A group of 1002 adults (ages 18–85 years, 60% female, 40% male) were followed for 12 weeks during the winter and fall seasons while monitoring URTI symptoms and severity using the Wisconsin Upper Respiratory Symptom Survey. Subjects reported frequency of aerobic activity, and rated their physical fitness level using a 10-point Likert scale. A general linear model, with adjustment for seven confounders, was used to examine the effect of exercise frequency and fitness level on the number of days with URTI and severity of symptoms.

Results The number of days with URTI during the 12-week period was significantly reduced, 43% in subjects reporting ≥5 days/week aerobic exercise compared to those who were largely sedentary (≤1 day/week) and 46% when comparing subjects in the high versus low fitness tertile. URTI severity and symptomatology were also reduced 32% to 41% between high and low aerobic activity and physical fitness tertiles.


Conclusions Perceived physical fitness and frequency of aerobic exercise are important correlates of reduced days with URTI and severity of symptoms during the winter and fall common cold seasons.


Supported by personal experience and studies in the literature,





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