Exercise and Your Immune System

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Anonymous Posted on May 05, 2020 07:38 PM

A healthy immune system is a vital component of health. Most of us are aware of things that decrease our immunity: poor hygiene, psychological stress, lack of sleep and poor nutrition. Exercise is something that can have a substantial impact on immunity, but the relationship between the two is not straight forward. Let’s take a closer look at the impact that various exercise regimens have on immune function and health.


Researchers have established a strong relationship between moderate exercise and immune function. The average US adult will develop 2-3 upper respiratory infections each year.  These numbers are significantly reduced in populations that participate in regular exercise. Individuals who participate in moderate aerobic exercise for approximately 30 min per day, 4-6 days per week reported 50% less upper respiratory infections each year. This is due to an increase in the production of macrophages (cells that fight and consume bacteria) stimulated by exercise which ultimately results in increased immunity.


High intensity exercise is associated with a much different immune response. When researchers examined the effects of high intensity workouts (>90% target heart rate) a decrease in immune function was reported. For approximately 48-72 hours after the completion of a high intensity exercise session immune function is compromised. This is due to the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that are associated with increased physical and psychological stress. These stress hormones cause a decrease in T-cell production, resulting in a decreased ability to fight off infection. As a general guideline, avoid intense exercise if you’re not feeling well in order to keep your immune function intact. If you do complete a high intensity workout, make sure you give yourself 48 hours to recover before attempting another high intensity workout - your immune system will thank you for it.


What about completing moderate exercise if you’re already sick? It depends on your symptoms. If you have a fever, swollen glands, or excessive fatigue, avoid exercise and rest as much as you can. If you you lack those symptoms, mild to moderate exercise may help you feel better mentally, but won’t likely increase your immune response. So if you just have a mild to moderate cold and some congestion feel free to exercise - just don’t expect it to expedite your recovery.


When it comes to exercise modality, research does not suggest that any particular exercise type is superior to another. What is most important is participating in regular aerobic exercise. Cycling, walking, running, swimming and water exercise are all proven to support increased immune function when performed at moderate intensities. If you need help identifying a moderate intensity for your exercise program, consult a health professional. Some exercise applications can also help guide you through setting up exercise programs for moderate exercise. Ability Fix is an aquatic exercise application that guides you through a complete fitness assessment and makes recommendations for moderate aerobic exercise based on your fitness level and capabilities. Applications like this make it easier to complete moderate aerobic exercise appropriate for supporting immune function.


When exercising to improve immune function it is important to regularly exercise at appropriate intensities. Moderate exercise is most effective in promoting a healthy immune system through increased production of white blood cells. If you do participate in high intensity exercise, be sure to give yourself a rest day afterwards to recover. Remember, exercise is just one component of immunity. Make sure you’re doing as much as you can to support your immune system: practice good hygiene by regularly washing your hands, eat nutritious food with plenty of micronutrients, stay hydrated by drinking lots of water and get plenty of sleep. You may not be able to completely avoid getting sick, but you’ll be well equipped to fight off any bacterial or viral infection that comes your way.


About Ability Fix


Ability Fix offers customized water aerobics classes to help you reach your goals. The award-winning app is the ultimate companion for your water aerobics regimen and guides you through a series of aquatic exercises. Whether you’re seeking a low-impact way to help improve your mobility or need a high-intensity cardio burn, Ability Fix is for you. The app works with a variety of devices, including laptops, tablets, smartphones, and smart TVs. Optional waterproof Bluetooth headphones allow you to listen to instructions for the exercises. With 50 water aerobics exercises and three Ai Chi routines launching at the start of 2020, Ability Fix is ready to help you create the ideal water aerobics routine. 


For more information about Ability Fix, visit www.abilityfix.com

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