How Daily Exercise Can Impact Immune HealthOne popular and recommended way to strengthen your immune system is to add daily exercise to your lifestyle. However, this raises many questions such as what kind of exercise should you be doing, how often, and how rigorous should your workout be? Exercise is connected with weight loss and control, lowering blood pressure, improved cardiovascular and bone health, and even protection against some diseases. But can exercise strengthen your immune system and help you stay healthy? Just like maintaining a balanced diet can support your immune health, regular exercise has the potential to improve your overall health and thereby strengthen your immune system. Recent studies show that regular exercise can also be connected with improved blood circulation in your body. Good circulation means that your immune cells can easily move through your bloodstream and do the job they are designed to do – better and faster.
Type of Exercises to Support Immune HealthTrainers and healthcare providers recommend that you get at least 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise through the week. Most people will also add strength training to their daily workouts. Aerobic exercises are commonly known as cardio or cardiovascular workouts. This type of exercise requires you to be very active and make your body move. An aerobic exercise can include taking brisk walks or jogs, riding your bike, swimming, or rowing a boat. Strength training exercises require you to move weight around in the form of gym weights or resistance objects. Whether you are choosing to only do aerobic exercises each day or a combination of cardio and strength training, it is important to understand that exercising should not be effortless or cause you to collapse – finding the middle ground is essential. Of course, the best combination for you depends on your overall health, age, existing muscle strength, resting heart rate, and lifestyle factors.
Understanding Aerobic ExercisesWhen it comes to cardio workouts, there are two main factors to keep in mind – the intensity and the duration of each workout. These factors vary from person to person. So, how do you know whether you are under doing or overdoing it? One rule of thumb is that if you can carry on a conversation easily while you are running or walking, chances are that you are not pushing your body enough. Amp it up for 30 minutes and then reduce your pace. Another good indicator that you may need to push your body a bit more is if you can easily sing your favorite song during your aerobic workout.
Strength Training Exercise TipsStrength training can be done in a variety of ways and tailored to help anyone reach their fitness goals. Guidelines are broad and vary greatly when it comes to what is considered safe and acceptable. The effectiveness of your strength training program depends on the existing strength levels of your core muscles, arms, and legs, as well as the amount of weights you are choosing to lift. It is recommended that you perform 5 to 15 repetitions for up to 4 sets of each strength training exercise in your workout routine. Remember to always take adequate resting periods between sets. Since strength training requires you to nail the right form to avoid injury, it is highly recommended that you speak to a certified fitness trainer that can help you fine tune your form and strength training workout regime.
When Too Much Exercise Affects Your Immune SystemDid you know that intense exercise for prolonged periods of time can be counterproductive if your goal is to strengthen your immune system? Research indicates that prolonged intense workout sessions result in a certain amount of immunosuppression immediately after the exercise session. This period of suppressed immunity may last from a few hours to a few days. Another study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research focused on measuring the immune system activity cellular markers that are found in saliva and discovered that intense workouts lasting more than 70 minutes at a stretch reduce the amount of immunoglobins that fight off infections. Like with most other things, moderation is key. On the other hand, research has also shown that people with compromised immune systems stand to benefit from even one session of moderate-level exercising. The best approach is moderation. Regular moderate workouts have been linked to reduced inflammation and quicker regeneration of immune cells. Aim for approximately, 150 minutes of weekly moderate exercise to encourage a healthy turnover of immune system cells.
Strengthen Your Immune System the Healthy WayAlong with exercise, there are a few other things you can do to give your immune system the support it needs. Following a lifestyle that focuses on good health and overall wellness is a good first step towards strengthening your immune system. Every organ in your body works better when it is protected against external influences and strengthened by good lifestyle strategies. A few important healthy lifestyle hacks to add to your list include:
- Eat a diet that is high in greens and fruits
- Quit smoking
- Drink in moderation
- Control your body weight
- Get enough sleep
- Maintain personal hygiene
- Try to reduce stress
- Take care of your gut
- Bishop, Nicolette C., and Michael Gleeson. "Acute and chronic effects of exercise on markers of mucosal immunity." Front Biosci 14, no. 2 (2009): 4444-56. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19273362
- Moreira, A., Arsati, F., Cury, P.R., Franciscon, C., de Oliveira, P.R. and de Araújo, V.C., 2009. Salivary immunoglobulin a response to a match in top-level brazilian soccer players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 23(7), pp.1968-1973. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19704379
- Simpson, Richard J., Hawley Kunz, Nadia Agha, and Rachel Graff. "Exercise and the regulation of immune functions." In Progress in molecular biology and translational science, vol. 135, pp. 355-380. Academic Press, 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26477922
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