Give your immune system a boost!

2013August29_Injury_Recovery_BBoosting your immune system can really guard against bugs for when the cold and flu season comes round. Research suggests that a great way to protect yourself is not by wrapping yourself up and taking it easy, but by keeping active and exercising. Not only are you less likely to suffer from this type of illness but if you exercise then the severity of your suffering will be far less too.

 Less intense illness

An Appalachian State University study looked at the respiratory health of 1,000 adults from 18-85 over a 12 week period. The study which coincided with the cold and flu winter season found that those who worked out five or more times a week reported cold symptoms being 43-46% shorter than those who exercised less.

How your immunity works

Exercise stimulates the body to produce antibodies which then react to antigens which attack your system and defences, causing illness and infection. A strong immune system recognizes the body’s cells as well as bacteria and viruses and destroys these harmful germs. Not exercising means these antigen-fighting cells work more slowly, and therefore are less effective.

Strength to fight infection

Exercise makes your heart and lungs stronger which helps in the ability to pump more oxygen-rich blood to where it’s needed. In turn this makes your immunity stronger. It’s a proven fact that exercise several times a week can have huge health and wellness benefits and this has a knock-on effect to your body’s strength in fighting illness.

The fight against cancer

Research also suggests that exercise can help in the fight against cancer too. A University of Nebraska Medical Center found that protecting T-cells, a type of white blood cell, were better able to fight disease in survivors of cancer after taking part in a 12 week exercise class. Another study, at the University of North Carolina found that women exercising between 10-19 hours a week had a 30% lower risk of breast disease.

Too much exercise weakens immunity

While those who work out have less annual sick days, taking about half as many days off work, exercising too much can have a detrimental effect on your immune system.  A Brazilian study analyzed the cellular marker activity of the immune systems of professional soccer players before and after an intense match lasting 70 minutes. The findings showed immunoglobulins, which fight off infection, were reduced significantly post-match.

If you have a cold already

So, if you already have a cold is exercise a good idea? What’s important is to listen to your body and seek medical advice. Some exercise may be beneficial but you may have to slow down or lessen your usual activities. If you’re taking decongestants then these can raise your heart rate and if you add a cardio style workout on top of this then that’s going to raise your heart rate even further. The result could be shortness of breath, feeling worn out or finding it difficult to breathe normally.

The conclusion seems to be that exercise can do wonders for your immune system as long as you don’t overdo it. Get in touch and give your system a boost.

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