During these uncertain times that have been brought upon us by the Covid-19 pandemic, immune health is more important than ever. One way that we can boost our immune systems is by making sure we are staying active.
Physical activity can give your immune system a great boost in a variety of ways, from decreasing your chances of developing heart disease to keeping your bones healthy and strong. Researchers have shown that regular exercise improves the immune and metabolic systems by increasing your body’s production of antibodies and T-cells, causing them to circulate more rapidly. Exercise also helps rid of toxins from your body, which can energize your cells and boost your metabolism. Regular exercise also lowers your body’s stress hormones- including adrenaline and cortisol- which gives your immune system strength.
Sweating is even good for immune health. When you sweat, your body reacts similar to how it does when you have a fever. By raising your body temperature, your body is working to kill pathogens.
According to a recent study, exercising at least 5 days a week reduced the risk of getting an upper respiratory infection by nearly 50% compared with being inactive. This exercise program also made symptoms less severe depending on the individual’s physical fitness level.
Some theories that defend how physical exercise can reduce the risk of certain illnesses are:
- Physical activity can help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.
- Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells, which are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease. These antibodies or cells circulate more rapidly, so they could detect illnesses earlier than they might have before. However, it is unknown whether these changes help prevent infections.
- The rise in body temperature during and after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection better.
People who follow a moderately energetic lifestyle benefit most from starting and sticking to an exercise program. A moderate program may consist of bicycling a few times a week, taking daily 20 to 30 minute walks, and taking regular trips to the gym. Exercise makes you feel healthier and more energetic and can help you feel better about yourself and your overall health.
There is no better time to get a head-start on your immune health than during the Covid-19 pandemic. Take a socially distanced walk/run or stop by your local gym to get your heart rate up!