Benefits of exercise on influenza or pneumonia in older adults: A systematic review

Yang Song, Feng Ren*, Dong Sun, Meizi Wang, Julien Baker, Bíró István, Yaodong Gu*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    40 Citations (Scopus)


    A coronavirus pandemic has recently become one of the greatest threats the world is facing. Older adults are under a high risk of infection because of weaker immune systems. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to summarize the recent scientific evidence that outlines the effects of exercise on influenza or pneumonia in older adults. An electronic literature search was conducted using the WEB OF SCIENCE, SCIENCEDIRECT and GOOGLE SCHOLAR databases using the following keywords, “Exercise,” “Older adult,” “Influenza,” and “Pneumonia.” Any randomized control trials, cross-sectional and observational studies that related to this topic were all included. Twenty studies met the eligibility criteria for this review. Thirteen randomized control trials investigated the effects of exercise on the immune responses to influenza or pneumonia vaccination: seven trials employed moderate aerobic exercise, three employed resistance exercise, and the remaining three used Asian martial arts or special home-based exercises. Five cross-sectional and two observational studies examined the associations between exercise/physical condition and influenza/pneumonia. Most of the current studies suggested that prolonged moderate aerobic exercise may help to reduce the risk of influenza-related infection and improve the immune responses to influenza or pneumonia vaccination in older adults. In addition, training in traditional Asian martial arts was also found to be beneficial. Future research should focus on the different effects of moderate and vigorous exercise on influenza-related diseases.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number2655
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2020

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Exercise
    • Influenza
    • Older adults
    • Pneumonia


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