Can Exercise Boost Your Immune System?

The immune system is one of the largest and most widespread organ systems throughout your body, inextricably tied into almost all other processes in your body, central to keeping you alive. Hundreds of tiny organs and a few bigger ones, a network of vessels and tissues, billions of cells with dozens of specialisations and quintillions of free floating proteins.

The immune system, however, is not a shield or a weapon that can be charged or made stronger, it is more like a dance of a complex dance of a billion of parts that needs to be in balance and working optimally.

The most important thing you can do to have a healthy immune system is eat a diet that provides you with all the vitamins and nutrients your body needs.  In addition to eating a healthy diet, the positive health effects of regular exercise are well known.

Working out directly boosts our immune system because it promotes good circulation of fluids throughout the body.  Good circulation is good for the immune system because it allows the cells of the immune system and immune proteins to move more efficiently and freely, which makes them do their job better. Typically, there are small amounts of immune cells that circulate on a consistent basis throughout the body; by increasing the movement of blood and lymph (which contains white blood cells) through exercise, you are increasing the movement of more immune cells from lymph nodes and the spleen into the bloodstream

Moderate-intensity physical exercises stimulate cellular immunity, while prolonged or high-intensity practices without appropriate rest can trigger decreased cellular immunity, increasing the propensity for infectious diseases.  This is more of a concern for elite professional athletes, however, and is easily managed by providing structured rest periods in your training.

With consistent exercise comes more time for immune cells to patrol the body for bacteria and viruses. Therefore, it’s beneficial to get into a routine of moving your body rather than exercising just occasionally.

Exercise doesn’t have to mean running or going on a lengthy hike; start small and adjust your routine as needed. Do short bursts of activity throughout your day if you can’t do it all at once; some movement is better than none! 

Tags: home