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Exercise and the Immune System

Having a healthy immune system is one of the many benefits of a fitness program. Yes, fitness is not just be about having a well-toned body and a healthier self-image. So the next time you hit the gym, think about fitness as achieving a body fully capable of warding off all kinds of disease.

So how much exercise is necessary to achieve optimum health? That would depend on a lot of things like age, over-all health condition or how much time available for it. But one important finding in recent years is the link between exercise and a healthier immune system.

Exercise for Immunity

Moderate exercise has been found to have multiple beneficial effects to the body’s immunity. It was found that immune cells circulate throughout the body more freely during moderate exercising, thus better killing bacteria and viruses. After a few hours from exercising, the immune activities of the body go back to normal. But with regular, consistent moderate exercising, the positive effects seem to stay longer.

Further, the link between exercise and immuity is due to an increase of the body’s production of macrophages during moderate exercise routines. Macrophages are cells that clean up the entire body of invaders and toxins. They are the body’s janitors. They ingest any foreign material they find in the body, including tumor cells. Due to pollution in the air, toxins in the food and constantly-mutating viruses, our body is constantly waging war in microscopic proportions to protect us from diseases. Macrophages are at the forefront of this defense system.

Exercise can also help relieve the body from stress symptoms as it promotes relaxation and focus. When a person is under stress, there is the possibility of losing sleep and neglecting to eat healthy. Your immune system will remain healthier with proper nutrition and sleep.

Exercise causes the heart to pump more blood. Better blood circulation has a lot of benefits including more efficient oxygenation and cleansing of body of wastes. Even simple exercise routines done regularly like stretching, stationary jogging, deep breathing exercises, and the like achieve these fantastic effects.

Exercise, too has both direct and indirect effects on one’s mental health. A healthy and trim body makes one feel good about himself, which is the more common motivation to get fit, anyway. This positive self-image is the best springboard to face any challenge in life. Thus, one is less prone to succumb to stress and depression.

Exercise and the Immune System

Exercise and Immunity – A Word of Caution…

Moderation can never be over-emphasized. Studies proved that prolonged and high-endurance exercise routines cause the immune system’s function to lower – the body produces more stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones cause blood pressure to rise, as well as the cholesterol level. If you are one of those who are into high endurance exercise routines, make sure to have time for rest and recovery days.

In actual experiments, it was observed that extreme and intensive exercising caused athletes to be susceptible to illness up to 72 hours after the exercise routine. So, too much exercise can also backfire.

People’s exercise requirements vary. What may be intensive for one can be moderate for another. For your own personal exercise routine, take into consideration your fitness level. It is best to start slow and gradually increase both the intensity and the amount of time per work out session. It will help to consult a personal trainer or your physician if you have questions.