By Robbie Owens

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – When it comes to avoiding the flu, doctors say getting the vaccine provides the most protection, but it’s not a guarantee. Experts say this year’s vaccine is roughly 62% effective.

So many North Texans are looking for ways to boost their immune systems and say exercise is a secret weapon.

“Like, I’d get bronchitis or the flu or whatever,” says Dallas Mom Stacey Conover, “and I haven’t been getting sick as much lately.”

In spite of staying busy with 18-month old twins, Conover is training for a marathon and is convinced that the added physical activity– on top of her flu shot– is helping her stay well.

“I really think that exercise is what’s made my immune system stronger. ”

And doctors agree– saying the link between exercise and good health can’t be overstated.

“Whether it’s the flu, whether it’s diabetes, physical activity is a good thing,” says Dr. Christopher Bloom, a Dallas board certified internist. “Flu viruses need to be fought by your immune system, diabetes needs to be fought by your immune system, so being in shape helps you fight all diseases.”

And Dr. Bloom– lacing up his sneakers for a brisk walk around the neighborhood– says he practices what he preaches to his patients– and can tell the difference.

“I don’t get as many coughs and sore throats… I don’t pick up as many infections.”

In fact, several studies have suggested that moderate exercise after getting a flu shot improves the vaccine’s effectiveness. And while experts agree that more research needs to be done, Beau Martin–out for a walk around White Rock Lake– finds the research affirming.

“Well, I just had a flu shot three weeks ago and I worked out right afterwards, so, I’m Superman!” said Martin, with a laugh. And doctors stress that it doesn’t take much physical activity to make a difference.

“Exercise doesn’t mean becoming an Olympian,” says Dr. Bloom. “All you have to do is walk!”

One would think that chasing 18 month old twins every day would be workout enough– but, Conover says she’s training to run a marathon, because she’s seen how exercise pays off.

“I don’t sick as often and things don’t bother me as much as they used to. I think it’s good for your mental health, as well. Overall, [it] makes you a better person.”

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