Regular exercise is a key part of healthy living. It’s something that most of us are aware of, but unfortunately too few of us do. But did you know that exercise has plenty of other benefits as well? In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, and ensuring your body is flexible and able to move as it should, exercise can also help to boost the immune system. That’s what we’re going to take a closer look at in this article.
How Does Exercise Help the Immune System?
Exercise helps to improve many aspects of a person’s health, and it is widely accepted that these benefits also play a part in improving the immune system. Some of the ways exercise can help are discussed below:
1. It Releases Endorphins
Endorphins are a mood boosting chemical that can help to relieve pain in a natural way. Every time you work out, these are released. In addition to helping to relieve physical pain, they can also give your mental health a positive boost. This is especially useful for those who experience high levels of stress. Stress is known to decrease immunity, yet is something that 70% of adults suffer from according to the American Psychological Association.
2. It Prevents Bacterial Growth
A study performed in Denmark found that those who perform exercise on a regular basis are 10% less likely to get sick than those who live a sedentary lifestyle. It was found that the higher body temperature experienced during exercise can help to prevent bacteria from multiplying, thus helping the body to remain healthy. While more research needs to be performed into which conditions specifically that exercise can help with, it is clear that exercise does help to boost the immune system.
3. It Lowers the Risk of Infection
Following on from the point above, some studies have found that exercise also helps to lower the risk of infection. One study performed by researchers at the Appalachian State University found that people who walked briskly for 45 minutes, 5 days a week reduced their number of sick days by 50%. They also followed a sedentary group in their study and found no such improvement. Exercise has also been shown in studies to lower the risk of contracting a respiratory infection.
4. It Encourages Healthy Sleep
Research has shown that the majority of people need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night in order to perform at their best. However, sleep also contributes to how well your immune system performs. Sleep deprivation has long been associated with a lower immune system. Poor sleep not only leads to a lower number of antibodies in the blood, but it’s also been found to lower the effectiveness of vaccines. Exercise can help to counteract this by making sleep easier and more restful.
How to Make an Improvement
If you have noticed that you tend to get sick a lot, it’s worth considering exercise, as well as supplements to help boost your immune system. A number of supplements are available that claim to be able to boost your immune system, but one that comes out on top is beta glucan. This works by reprogramming your immune system to work at an optimal level. Some in depth information about this supplement can be found in this article by Immunocorp who have discussed the key ways that it can strengthen your immune system (you can also find products containing beta gluten on their site if you’re keen to give it a try).
Another supplement to consider taking alongside an exercise regime is Vitamin C. This has been proven to help reduce sickness in people like marathon runners who work out a lot and perform high intensity exercises.
While taking daily supplements will go some way towards improving your immune system, you’ll also want to boost the amount of physical activity you perform each week. The best type of exercise is aerobic exercise with common aerobic exercises including dancing, rowing, cycling, swimming, jogging and walking. Even those with mobility issues should be able to participate in at least one of the above activities. Swimming, for example, is a low impact exercise that won’t put the same amount of stress on your joints as running. Working out on an elliptical machine is another good option for those with mobility issues.
It’s also a good idea to build some strength training into your exercise regime. Not only can it help aid any weight loss goals you have, but it can help to strengthen your muscles and boost your immune system at the same time. It’s important to ensure this is done in moderation, however, and it’s always wise to speak to your primary care physician before embarking on an exercise regime, especially if you currently live a sedentary lifestyle.
So, the answer to the question ‘can exercise help to boost the immune system?’ is yes, it can. Combined with supplements it can make a drastic change to your life.
Photo by Maria Fernanda