Anyone have a tissue? Or a treadmill instead? Exercising to boost the immune system!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Photo: Courtesy of Jeroen van Oostrom

It’s that time of year again where it seems that everyone is getting sick. A recent study done by Appalachian State University found that on average patients are sick for 13 days during the winter months and 8 days during the fall season. However, the study also found that people who exercised or participated in physical activity were sick half of those days. The article discusses the potential positive impact of physical activity on the immune system. It was determined that people who exercised 5 times per week or “felt fit” boosted their immune system, and had better protection from getting sick than other individuals.

This idea of physical activity boosting the immune system is also supported by the British Journal of Sports Medicine.  There has been evidence that moderate physical activity can increase the resistance of individuals to some diseases (in addition to the many other health benefits of exercise!) This includes moderate levels of exercise 3-5 days per week. Physical activity could include cardiovascular and/or strength and muscle training. However, the body’s response to exercise depends on intensity and duration for each individual person.  Therefore, in more extreme individuals, too much exercise or stress on the body could lead to adverse effects and increased risk of infections. This could be a problem for people who are training at a high intensity for multiple hours a day without rest or recovery. 

In general though with most individuals, what it comes down to is the idea that moderate physical activity can be beneficial for your body’s immune system and keeping you healthy. Physical activity has many physical, mental, and emotional benefits for the body. Additionally, it can help in preventing diseases as well as those pesky cold and flu bugs. As the weather gets colder, try not to lose your fitness routine and make a point to include physical activity in your day!

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