The World today is full of Information and more so in case of information and research on the positive Life changing effect of Exercise on your physical and mental health. But most people don’t fully grasp why nor realize how powerful exercise is for your immune system.
The Covid-19 epidemic pushed t-cells and antibodies into the public eye, sparking awareness of what affects our immune system.
This guide delves into how much exercise benefits your immune system, such as how it decreases inflammation and infection, enhances recovery and vaccination efficacy, and mitigates age-related immune system decline.
How does exercise affect your immune system’s functions?
Exercise lowers respiratory illness risk by 40-50%
Exercising regularly is highly effective for overall fitness. But more specific research on its effect on respiratory illnesses demonstrates that regular moderate exercise lowers the risk of upper respiratory tract infections like common cold and flu by 40- 50%. It moreover, reduces the chances of developing severe forms of these infections by manifolds.
There is an inverse association in which the probability of a URTI lowers as exercise exertion increases.
However, too much exercise raises the risk of URTI. The link between exercise and immune function is multifaceted, and excessive activity might be a double-edged sword. essentially it means you should avoid overexercising and only perform moderate exercise.
Exercise helps your cells look for infections in your body
Exercise improves ‘Immuno-surveillance,’ which is the body’s immune cells searching for infections and illness cells. When you exercise, white blood cells leave your tissues and enter the circulation when your heart rate rises and blood is pushed more vigorously around the body.
These cells travel to other regions, such as the lungs or the stomach, which may require greater immune assistance during activity. When you exert your body during Exercise, Immune cells of the body migrate to tissues in the muscles that require repair and hence hunt for any infections in those tissues.
Exercise also signals your body to produce new white blood cells, so regular exercise maintains these vital cells young and fresh, boosting your innate immune system.
Exercise ignites the anti-inflammatory response of your body
Chronic inflammation in the body has been related to various illnesses and ailments, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, and dementia.
The rupture of muscles after a good workout session causes temporary inflammation. However, this transient increase in inflammation is beneficial because it signals your muscles to mend and expand.
The stress on the body’s muscles leads to the release of free radicals and a hormone called interleukin-6 (IL6).
This hormone supports the formation of new T cells, which are essential for fighting infections, immune disorders, and cancers. Additionally, it slows the shrinking of the thymus which has anti-aging benefits.
A healthy BMI is an indication of good overall health and an optimal immune system. High-fat percentage especially in the midsection leads to low-grade inflammation.
Exercise reduces age-related immune system decline
During covid, we discovered how much more severe a virus might be for elderly persons. This is not unique to covid; the immune system deteriorates with age, increasing the frequency and severity with which people fall sick (called immunosenescence).
Regular exercise can improve how your immune system works and postpone the onset of immunosenescence.
Exercise has been linked to the following outcomes in the elderly;
- Improved vaccination response
- Fewer fatigued T-cells and increased capacity to produce new T-cells
- Reduce inflammation
- More cytotoxic NK (Natural Killer cells) cell activity – is important in the fight against viral infections and cancer.
How much exercise is enough to boost an immune response
Exercise improves your overall health in various ways, one of which is a healthy immune system. However, there is one crucial caveat: the frequency, duration, and intensity of your workouts are all significant.
Research shows that moderate-intensity exercise is the greatest way to enhance your immune response.
Exercise at a moderate to vigorous intensity for 60 minutes or less is recommended to boost your immune system. If you do this on a daily or near-daily basis, your immune and metabolic systems will continue to improve, building on earlier gains.
There is a point at which the amount of physical activity becomes too much for the body. This is especially frequent in elite athletes preparing for competition when hard training combined with psychological stress raises the risk of sickness.
Overtraining tends to cause a 48-72 hour window following high intensity or intensive levels of exercise in which the immune system is impaired by exhaustion and stress hormones, rendering the body more vulnerable to viral infection.
It is crucial to highlight that the threshold for overtraining to begin increasing the risk of infection is quite high – typically, bouts of exercise lasting more than 3 hours, exercising without resting for two weeks or training more than once a day. This is primarily a danger for professional athletes, and a few prudent precautions will guarantee that your activity level boosts rather than depletes your immunity.
Rest days are essential since training every day has a cumulative effect on the immune system. Avoid exercising every day for more than two weeks. If you undertake a high-intensity exercise, give your body at least 48 hours to recover before completing another. Get enough rest, hydrate with Cloud Water, and consume a balanced diet to recover.
Don’t overtrain – the hazards are greatest when there is a significant increase in exercise intensity or duration, so don’t overtrain. Generally, you should attempt to raise your training loan by no more than 10% every week.
Long-duration exercise should be avoided since the dangers increase after 90 minutes; hence long-duration exercise training such as marathons requires enough rest between sessions.
Avoid extreme exercise if you don’t feel well – avoid intense resistance training if you’re sick or have early indications of an illness, as it can worsen or last longer. Because your body is already working hard to fight infections, adding stress from the vigorous activity is counterproductive.
Overall, as long as exercise is appropriately calibrated, you’ll be alright; be aware that there is a tipping point. Keep an eye out for indicators of overtraining and sickness if you’re on an extreme program.