Volume 10 Issue 4

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Page 6 | Abby's Magazine | Could exercise be a key ingredient in preven ng bacterial and viral infec ons and boos ng your immune system? It turns out regular physical ac vity does play a role in keeping you healthy and preven ng illnesses. That's because exercise contributes to your overall health, which may help support your immune system's func ons. This ar cle explains the theories behind how exercise can support your immune system and gives some insight into whether you should work out when you're sick. Does regular exercise help your immune system? In short, yes. Exercise benefits your body in several ways, and boos ng your immunity is just one of those. But there is one important caveat: The frequency, dura on, and intensity of your workouts ma er. Research shows that when it comes to boos ng your immunity, moderate-intensity exercise is best. In general, exercising at a moderate to vigorous intensity for 60 minutes or less is op mal for the immune- boos ng benefits of exercise. If you do this daily or almost daily, your immune and metabolic systems con nue to strengthen, building on previous gains. On the other hand, prolonged high intensity training — especially without appropriate rest between sessions — can suppress your immune system. This is an important considera on if you're a compe ve athlete or are training for an endurance event like a marathon. In those cases, take extra care to give your body ample recovery me. The frequency, duration, and intensity of your workouts matter. On the other hand, prolonged high intensity training, especially without appropriate rest between sessions can suppress your immune system. How much should I exercise? Before ge ng into the ways physical ac vity may help your immune system, it's important to discuss how much exercise you likely need for general health. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), most adults should get at least 150–300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic ac vity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical ac vity each week. The HHS also recommends doing at least two days per week of muscle-strengthening ac vi es involving all major muscle groups in your legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. Being ac ve most days of the week is an excellent goal to benefit your overall health and well-being. It's also a great place to start if you want to work toward boos ng your immune system. Six ways exercise benefits the immune system A healthy immune system protects your body from bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens you encounter daily. Here are six ways exercise may help your immune system. 1. Exercise s mulates cellular immunity According to a 2019 research review, moderate-intensity exercise can s mulate cellular immunity by increasing the circula on of immune cells in your body. This helps your body be er prepare for a future infec on by detec ng it earlier. Researchers found that performing aerobic exercise at a moderate to vigorous intensity for less than 60 minutes (an average of 30–45 minutes) increases the recruitment and circulation of the immune system's best defensive cells . These findings indicate that regular exercise can enhance immune defense ac vity by making you more resistant to infec on and be er equipped to deal with infec ous agents that have already gained trac on in your body. 2. Exercise raises body temperature Unless you're moving at a snail's pace, your body temperature will increase during most forms of exercise and will stay elevated for a short me a er you complete a workout. Why is this significant? It's a commonly held belief that this brief rise in body temperature both during and a er exercise may prevent bacteria from growing and help your body be er address an infec on, similarly to how a fever works . S ll, it's important to note that this claim lacks evidence-based support. While this temporary temperature rise is not as significant as the increase you experience with a fever, it s ll may be beneficial to your immune system. 3. Exercise helps you sleep be er Regular physical ac vity can contribute to be er overall sleep quan ty and quality. This is great news since sleep loss can nega vely affect certain parts of the immune system. Some Does Exercise Boost Immunity? By Sara Lindberg & Medically reviewed by Jared Meacham, Ph.D., RD, PMP, MBA, CSCS

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