Building your stamina through sports is no easy task. It takes dedication, time, and a bunch of effort. You have to put in the effort to participate in sports that foster endurance, but the benefits are beyond plentiful.

Running A Marathon Is No Cake Walk

Completing a 5K marathon without passing out from fatigue has a lot to do with endurance. Endurance training involves being able to perform strenuous activities for a period of time, and it also helps your body fight stress and fatigue more effectively.

Intense cardio can help deliver oxygen quickly and efficiently to your heart, lungs, and muscles, but many researchers believe this type of exercise can do more harm than good when it comes to your immune system.

Some Researchers Believe Your Immune System Suffers

Studies dating back to the 1980’s have had researchers convinced that exercises that focus on endurance cause white blood cells to die, leading individuals to contract illnesses.

A study conducted in 1983 studied runners that raced a 34-mile course in South Africa. This study found that around one-third of these runners developed an upper-respiratory infection not long after completing the race. Another study regarding the 1987 Los Angeles Marathon found that 13% of the participating runners fell ill with the same infection.

So what gives? Does cardio and other endurance-building activities really make you sick? The answer is a lot more positive than previous research hinted towards.

Intense Exercise Can Help Combat Illness

A recent study that has been published in the Frontiers of Immunity shows that white blood cells don’t die after endurance exercise, but rather they travel to vital organs such as the lungs.

“Since runners do a lot of intense breathing while training or racing, they might inhale infectious particles,” stated James Turner, Ph.D., and author of the study. White blood cells migrate to these parts of the body—such as the lungs—to prevent you from getting sick in the first place.

The moral of the story? You shouldn’t give up your cardio routine in fear of catching a cold.

“You should probably be more worried about a lack of personal hygiene and other unhealthy lifestyle habits, not exercise, increasing your risk of infection,” Turner stated. Keep pushing yourself. Your body will thank you.