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Regular exercise helps regulate the immune system.

How does exercise help enhance your immune response?

In a nutshell: Physical activity increases blood flow, which has the immediate effect of releasing and distributing immune cells throughout the body. This, of course, is a simplistic answer. The full scope of mechanisms involved in improving your immune protection are much more complex. For avid exercisers, it is important to note that fatigue from over exertion is detrimental to your immune system function. It is therefore key to balance rest and recuperation with physical activity. However, most Americans are not moving enough. Read below for more important reasons to stay physically active.

Studies have shown the following benefits:

  • Enhanced vaccination responses
  • Increased T-cell activity 
  • Increased neutrophil phagocytic activity 
  • Lowered inflammatory response to bacterial challenge
  • Lower levels of circulatory inflammatory cells

Increasing evidence shows that the increase in immune cell circulation after each bout of exercise and the anti-inflammatory, as well as the antioxidant effect of exercise training have a cumulative effect in modulating many disease processes.The statements above are a brief summary of an article published by authorities in exercise immunology. Here is the link to the full article. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095254618301005?via%3Dihub 

It only takes a brisk walk of 45-60 minutes, or 2 to 3 15-20 minute walks in a day to give your immune system a boost. Don’t care for walking?  Engage in bicycling, dancing, calisthenics, playing with your children… it’s all good. Just move.

The benefits of each bout of physical activity only last a few hours so you must engage in sustained movement of your choice every day to build and maintain optimum function.

Want to learn more?

Exercise Increases Immune Function – How We Know by David Nieman, Dr.P.H., FACSM.  In this podcast Dr. Nieman tells of what we know about increasing immune function with exercise or physical activity. It’s a 26 minute interview.

Staying Active During the Coronavirus Pandemic. This handout offers helpful information and FAQ’s about COVID-19 and exercise.

Increasing your “Happy” Hormone Naturally. In this article I wrote of ways to enhance Serotonin levels in your body -another way to boost immune function.

About the Author
Domenic Lopez B.Sc., Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Licensed Massage Therapist, is owner and operator of Healthy Moves, a private practice where massage therapy and movement education help you achieve better living.