Boost Your Immune System with Exercise

Heidi Moon  |  Posted: Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

As we face this pandemic and work together to slow the spread of this virus with social distancing, we are challenged with the loss of something that really keeps us going in difficult times – the supportive community of The Marsh. We know the social support is as important, if not more, than the “workouts” we get in a training session or class. However, The Marsh health and fitness team would like to encourage you to keep up your physical activity at home and outdoors as it will boost your immune system during this critical time. Stay tuned to our website and Facebook page as we continue to support your health and wellness with online resources.

We know we feel better when we move, but there is real science behind that feeling. Below is a summary of some recent research on exercise and your immunity from IHRSA:

Physical Activity Benefits Immune Health

Several studies have linked physical activity to improvements in immune markers and immune health. An extensive review published in the Journal of Sport and Health Scienceoutlined how physical activity and exercise benefit immune system health and function. The authors conducted an extensive review of available evidence on the short- and long-term effects of exercise on the immune system, clinical benefits related to the link between exercise and immune health, the influence of nutrition on the immune response to exercise, and the effect of exercise on immune system aging.

The results found that acute bouts of exercise—less than 60 minutes—enhanced the circulation of immunoglobulins, natural killer (NK) cells, T cells, and other immune cells that play critical roles in the body’s defense against pathogens, and can help reduce inflammation.

An analysis of randomized controlled trials conducted as part of the review also found that people assigned to long-term moderate exercise programs—ranging eight weeks to one year—saw lower incidence and duration of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI), with reductions as high as 40-50% among people who were active daily. A similar analysis of results from long term population studies found a 28% reduction in URTI in groups with higher levels of physical activity and fitness.

The authors concluded that evidence supports that regular exercise helps delay age-related dysregulation of immune system functions.

Source: Nieman D, Wentz, L. The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system. J Sport Health Sci. 2019 May; 8(3): 201–217.