Exercise has a lot of health benefits. There is significant data showing that it actually helps boost your immune system. Let’s take a look at the evidence.
General Health Benefits of Exercise
We know that regular exercise has a wide range of positive effects on the body. It helps lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, protect against numerous diseases, and control body weight. Since it has such a significant impact on broad good health, it’s safe to say that it certainly has an indirect positive impact on immunity, as better health tends to lead to a healthier immune system.
The wide range of benefits from regular exercise are so well-documented and important that there are clear public health guidelines related to exercise. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends at least 150-300 minutes of moderate activity exercise or 75-150 minutes of vigorous activity exercise each week for substantial health benefits. Moderate activity includes many forms of daily movement like mowing your lawn, walking briskly, and light cycling. Vigorous activity includes running, hiking, and cycling at greater effort.
Exercise and Your Immune System
When it comes to the specific effects exercise has on immunity, there are a few things to know. In the short-term, exercise can help boost your immune defense. This is because exercising increases blood circulation, and subsequently increases the circulation of immune cells in your body. The immune boost, while temporary from acute exercise, builds over time. In fact, a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2011 found that people who engaged in aerobic activity five or more days per week had about a 40% lower incidence of upper respiratory infections over a 12 week period than people who exercised one or fewer days per week.
Additionally, exercise has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. This is important for immunity, as it can help keep inflammation down. This prevents your immune system from getting into a state of over-inflammation that can hinder immune function.
There is some evidence that overtraining or exercising too much too fast may hinder immune function. There doesn’t seem to be an exact measure for overdoing it. However, your body will tell you if you are overtraining. If you experience excessive fatigue, lower quality sleep, unusual muscle soreness, and/or unexplained mood swings, it could be a result of too much vigorous activity for your fitness level, and may negatively impact your immune system.
Exercise and the Immune System: The Main Takeaway
Overall, exercise has a profoundly positive impact on your immune system, as it does for your health in general. Particularly during a public health crisis like our current pandemic, exercise is critical. Regular exercise can help all aspects of your health as you cope with the unprecedented nature of the coronavirus.
You should seek diagnosis and treatment from a qualified medical professional like Dr. Stacie Grossfeld if you are injured and want to get back to the activities you love. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Grossfeld, call Orthopaedic Specialists at 502-212-2663 today.