Exercise and Immunity

We all know that exercise is good for our health. We read it on every magazine cover and see it
on every commercial. There are a million new workout programs and home gym systems that
claim to give you the next best thing in exercise. But the question I have for you is have you
ever stopped to wonder why exercise is so important? Exercise actually has the ability to help
boost your immune system and help prevent you from getting sick. Now don’t read this and
think that frequent hand washing and consciously avoiding touching your face isn’t the most
important, because it still is. We all know that exercise makes us healthier, which is one of the
main reasons that we exercise but being healthier also lowers our chances of getting sick. In
addition, it causes us to release fewer stress hormones and the less stress we feel the stronger
our body’s defenses are. Exercise also temporarily raises the body’s core temperature which
can make it harder for pathogens to begin colonizing, thus helping to prevent illness. Another
great way that exercise can help reduce your chance at infection is by increasing the amount of
air that gets moved through your lungs and airways. This process increases the chance for you
to get all the bad stuff out before it can replicate. In addition to the basics described above,
exercise also increases the rate at which both blood and lymph circulates through the body.
Lymph is the fluid within your body that carries immune cells (typically white blood cells) and
proteins (typically antibodies). This fluid generally does not circulate quickly so an increase in
the circulation of this fluid can assist in finding pathogens quicker which can lead to less time
for them to colonize and cause infection. This all sounds great, but always keep in mind that
things in moderation are best. If you over exercise and run your body down, you can actually be
at higher risk for infection because your body is too busy trying to repair itself from the exercise
to be able to detect pathogens early on, thus leaving you vulnerable. Exercise has so many
benefits and helping to boost your immunity is only one of them; so exercise often and take
care of yourself; but also wash your hands often and don’t touch your face if you don’t have to!

  • Ani Monroe, Group Fitness Coach