Everyone sees exercise as a way to lose or gain weight or basically to build muscle. However, the advantages of exercise extend beyond the obvious. Keeping your hands clean and eating a healthy diet are two excellent strategies to keep your immune system in good shape, but what about daily exercise? You start to question yourself. Is it possible that exercise boosts the immune system as well? That’s a question that’s been on everyone’s mind lately. Let’s consider how it works.
What Is The Immune System?
Our immune system is a group of millions of white blood cells produced in the bone marrow, protecting us from bacteria, viruses, and fungus. According to DeYoung, exercise boosts the creation of several different types of white blood cells, one of which is called a macrophage. As germs and viruses gain entrance into the body, macrophages work to capture and eliminate them. Age, obesity, and inactivity all harm the immune system. Regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help boost the immune system’s surveillance activity.
Can Exercise Boost Your Immune System?
Several studies reveal that regular exercise increases one’s immune system and overall well-being. Health.com (2021) compares it to a housekeeper where it helps the immune system patrol the body and detect and evade bacteria and viruses. Exercise has a way of boosting immune system components. It can aid in the removal of microorganisms from the lungs and airways. This removal could help you from catching a cold, flu, or other ailments.
The temporary increase in body temperature during and immediately after exercise may help prevent bacteria from developing. This increase in temperature may aid the body’s ability to fight infection. (It’s the same thing that happens when you have a fever.)
Another way exercise boosts the immune system is by reducing inflammation in the body. When immune cells try to function in an inflamed environment, it becomes chronically inflamed as well, making it more challenging to combat infection. Increase your activity level to reduce inflammation.
Does Exercise Harm Your Immune System?
Nature Public Health Emergency Collection (2020) explains that moderate-intensity physical activities boost cellular immunity. However, extended or high-intensity workouts without adequate rest might deplete cellular immunity, making you more susceptible to infectious diseases. Too much exercise has a way of harming the immune system. The research on strenuous, long-term exercise has proven inconsistent. While there is a definite link between high training loads and lower immunity, it is unclear whether exercise causes immune suppression.
Early research in the field of exercise immunology revealed that too intensive exercise could lower immunity. According to a study, athletes who engage in more than 90 minutes of high-intensity endurance exercise are susceptible to disease for up to 72 hours following the workout. The body creates hormones that may temporarily impair immunity during heavy physical effort.
Recent research suggests repeated bouts of vigorous exercise to lowered immune function, increased symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI), latent virus reactivation, and reduced vaccination immunological responses. Immune suppression is more common among athletes and other high-performance individuals, such as military personnel.
How Exactly Can Exercise Boost the Immune System?
You can boost your immune system through exercise in the following manners
- Exercise Enhances the Immune System’s Surveillance Activity
Because exercise enhances the exchange of essential white blood cells between peripheral tissues—which aid in the body’s immunological response—and circulation, the body’s immune response improves (blood and lymph vessels). Immune cells in the bloodstream become more active in their search for viruses as a result of this.
It also builds up immune cell circulation, making them wander the body faster and in more significant numbers. Exercise, notably, aids in recruiting highly specialized immune cells, such as natural killer cells and T cells, responsible for locating and eliminating infections (such as viruses). Participants who performed a 45-minute brisk walk reported an increase in immune cells circulating throughout the body for up to three hours following the exercise.
- Exercise Strengthens the Body’s Defenses
One of the main reasons for exercise’s immune-boosting effects is that it aids in the development of white blood cells, the most notable of which are T cells. These can recognize viruses and bacteria and bind to them, killing them. It’s a defense mechanism that does a decent job of keeping the body free of colds and flu.
Furthermore, exercise helps to improve circulation, which allows white blood cells to travel more freely throughout the body. It implies they can get closer to germs and viruses and fight infection more effectively.
These processes could explain why some studies show that exercise can lower the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections—symptoms such as a sore throat, sinusitis, and congestion fall under this category. According to certain studies, high-intensity training may increase the generation of white blood cells more than moderate-intensity workouts. As a result, incorporating some intensive activities into your regimen may be beneficial.
- Exercise Improves Your Sleep
If you’ve ever done a physical exercise that was a little different from your typical routine, you may have discovered that sleep came easy that night. Exercise can improve sleep quality simply by depleting our energy supplies. It also aids in the burning off of the adrenalin and adrenalin by-products that we make when we are anxious, which can interfere with getting a decent night’s sleep.
Sleep is critical for immunological function, in part because this is when cytokines start creating. Cytokines then target infections and inflammation, which help the immune system function properly. Sleep also aids the body’s production of T cells in studies. These, as we’ve seen, can help the body battle against the disease.
- Exercising Lowers Stress Levels
Exercise benefits the mind in a variety of ways. It can boost our happiness and alertness while also reducing stress by generating endorphins, which are happy hormones.
Stress has several adverse effects on the immune system. It inhibits the development and distribution of new lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that play a role in the immune system. This action reduces our ability to fight off invading viruses and bacteria, making us more susceptible to colds and flu and making it more challenging to get rid of the infection once it has taken hold.
Furthermore, during the stress reaction, glucocorticoids are generated, suppressing the release of interferons and interleukin.
These aid in regulating the immune response; therefore, lymphocytes are less aggressive in the fight against infection without them. Glucocorticoids can also directly destroy lymphocytes, especially if stress is prolonged. Stress-related habits, such as bad eating and irregular sleeping patterns, can wreak havoc on the immune system. I’ve already discussed why getting enough sleep is critical for a healthy immune system, but eating plays a role as well.
Magnesium, a stress-relieving vitamin, is present in fresh foods like spinach, which we may be less likely to choose when we’re anxious. So, try incorporating a bit more exercise into your daily routine and see if you notice a difference in your mood.
What is the Best Type of Exercise to Boost Your Immune System?
The best type of exercise for your immune system is a simple exercise. Community Health lists five simple workouts to boost your immune system. They are:
- Heal raises for calf strength
- Chair squats
- Hip abductor strength
- Upper body strength walls push-ups
However, these exercises can seem complicated for some people. Some people might want to find how to boost the immune system through simple activities. Here are some more straightforward exercises to do at home without visiting the gym
A brisk walk at 3 miles per hour boosts your immune system. You can start with 30 minutes walking daily for five days till you get used to it. To keep track of your time over a week, utilize our handy workout log page. If you don’t have a fancy device, you’re walking at a reasonable rate if you can still talk while walking but not sing a song. It is an indicator that most people are in their desired heart rate zone.
Swimming is one of the most popular sports. Swimming is a terrific method to stay fit, stay healthy, and make friends in addition to being enjoyable. Swimming is a healthful sport that you can engage in for the rest of your life. Swimming is an excellent recreational exercise for people of all ages because it is a low-impact activity with numerous physical and mental health advantages. Swimming for recreation can give you a low-impact workout while also allowing you to relax and feel good. Breaststroke, backstroke, sidestroke, and freestyle are standard recreational swimming strokes.
Jogging and Running
Running or jogging regularly has numerous health benefits. Running can help create strong bones because it is a weight-bearing exercise; it strengthens muscles, enhances cardiovascular fitness, and maintains a healthy weight by burning many calories.
Biking is an excellent aerobic workout. In an hour, you’ll burn roughly 400 calories. It also strengthens the lower body, such as the legs, hips, and glutes. This exercise is an excellent choice if you want a workout that is light on your back, hips, knees, and ankles.
Yoga’s beauty is that you don’t have to be a yogi or yogini to benefit from it. Yoga can soothe the mind and strengthen the body, whether young or elderly, overweight or fit. Don’t be put off by yoga terminology, pricey yoga studios, or challenging positions. Everyone can benefit from yoga.
Is More Exercise Good for Your Immune System?
As stated earlier, too much exercise is not good, especially for just starting their exercise journey. Exercise is good for you, but make it minimal, or it can harm your body and mind.
Overworking yourself could destroy the results you worked so hard for, as well as harm your heart and arteries, cause injuries, and lead to addiction. An excessive activity might decrease your immune system, but moderate exercise can boost it.
According to one study, light to moderate runners has a decreased risk of death than persons who did not exercise. However, in an unexpected twist, those participants who ran faster than three times a week had the same chance of dying as non-runners. As a result, excessive and vigorous running appears to negate some of the health benefits of regular running.
Withdrawal is a symptom of exercise addiction, and it occurs when you miss a workout and feel anxious or weary. Or you may be feeling out of control and unable to reduce your activity even when you’re aware that it’s causing you pain. It’s critical to recognize that you shouldn’t simply stop exercising. The important thing is to acquire the appropriate amount. As a result, feel free to exercise. It’s just that it’s not always the case.
Exercise and Immune System Function as Coronavirus spread
You already know that exercising is essential for your health, but did you know that it can also help you avoid respiratory illnesses? And, in the event of a global epidemic, should you continue to exercise or rest your immune system? According to MedlinePlus 2021, physical activity is good for you, but you shouldn’t overdo it.
Exercises influence the immune system and its antiviral defenses. Animal studies using influenza and herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) in the respiratory tract have indicated that moderate exercise was undertaken before (training) or after infection (for a few days before symptom onset) reduces infection morbidity and mortality. On the other hand, Preclinical investigations have indicated that vigorous exercise hastens the onset of respiratory virus infections.
Runners world 2021 advises that 30 to 60 minutes’ exercise daily can improve your body defenses against germs. Though it’s difficult to determine without more current data on COVID-19, adopting a better lifestyle, particularly for those who were previously sedentary, may help improve their odds of recovering from upper respiratory tract infections. Those who are currently active, such as runners, are in the same boat. Bust still advises not to overdo it during the pandemic.
Lastly, Insider 2021 encourages everyone to have an accountability partner that can help you exercise more. Also, T=the body reacts to all actions going on, and you should always be conscious of the opposing side. Exercise does help boost your immune system but always notice when it’s getting too much or giving you a negative feeling.