n light of the corona virus, there is a lot of discussion about what can be done to improve the body’s immune system. One definite thing that helps is to exercise on a regular basis. Being fit helps boost the immune systems and working out can improve our ability to fight off germs.
What Research has shown:
There is a wealth of science that suggests being fit boosts our immune systems, and that even a single workout can amplify and improve our ability to fight off germs. For example, a 2017 study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity monitored the effects of one 20-minute session of moderate treadmill exercise for 47 participants. These 47 people first gave a blood sample before exercising and then provided another blood sample immediately after exercising. The study found this one singular stint of exercise to have anti-inflammatory effects that boosted the immune system.
Regular physical exercise is a pillar of healthy living. It can boost your immune system in a variety of ways. For example, a regular exercise regime will increase your body's production of antibodies and White Blood Cells; this increased production allows the immune system to detect illnesses earlier than it would have otherwise. Simultaneously, exercising will help to expel toxins from your body. This in turn will energise your cells and metabolism. In plain and simple terms, this will mean a strengthening of your immune system in fighting off a myriad of germs.
It is widely recognised that being fit and active will improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure and protect against diabetes. Exercise also promotes good circulation which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and therefore do their job efficiently. Think of it as servicing your car and ensuring its proper upkeep - it is essential to keep it in running order. There is no mandatory level of exercise required in this sense, a brisk walk, a light jog or a bodyweight workout all have well-documented benefits.
It should be noted that in addition to boosting your immune system's potential response to COVID-19, regular exercise can enhance vaccination response too. Exercise will boost function of the natural killer cells in the immune system in a process known as mobilisation. Through exercise, billions of immune cells are recruited and re-circulated in the blood. These immune cells are primed to recognise and kill virus infected cells. This process stems back to your strengthened immune system having a quicker response to fighting germs and adapting to any vaccine.
Stress, Exercise & The Immune System
Stress and the immune system go hand-in-hand. Research dating back over 25 years has revealed that psychological stress increases susceptibility to illness. Prolonged or chronic stress can negatively impact the immune system by reducing the body's ability to defend against viruses and bacteria. Additionally, when under stress, it's not uncommon for people to engage in coping strategies such as drinking excessive alcohol, smoking cigarettes, eating a poor diet, or not getting enough sleep, which can also negatively impact the immune system. These factors combined with the current pandemic could result in a serious threat to health.
Engaging in regular physical activity is a great way to help manage stress and strengthen your immune system. In fact, research shows, that "fit individuals" (defined as those who partake in regular physical activity), have a lower incidence of infection compared to inactive and sedentary individuals. Exercise is also known to stimulate the production of endorphins which are chemicals in the brain that act as the body's natural painkillers and mood elevators.
Conclusion & Recommendations
By keeping active it will boost your immune system and help to minimise the potential effects of the virus. Furthermore if you exercise regularly, it can reduce stress and improve your mental health.
Here are a few examples of what you can do on a regular basis:
Stay safe and stay strong