Now is a time when we are a little more conscious about our health. I guess a pandemic will do
that. It’s difficult for me to totally dismiss the benefits of this situation. I don’t believe COVID-19 is a good
thing, but I do believe some amazing things will happen because of it. Finally it is becoming more common to discuss ways we can improve our health. I feel that is one of the biggest benefits of all of this. People I know who never spoke about health are starting to ask questions about exercise and nutrition. It is common knowledge that exercise can help make the health of a person better if done correctly, and so can nutrition, stress management, adequate sleep, etc.
I am not inventing the wheel by saying this, sometimes common information may not be common to all people. It wasn’t until I felt the physical effects of sugar that made me realize how unhealthy it was for me. Once I recognized this I decided to make some changes. What I’m saying is sometimes it just doesn’t click for others. I know me personally, I only understood once I felt the pain in my back from sugar and at that point there was no going back. I wanted to reduce my sugar intake for my mental well-being. As I worked on some of my own traumas I needed “something” less and less. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a lot of suffering until a change is desired. I see it a lot in my profession. For some, it takes getting to the point of poor health to motivate you to make that change. Hitting a low point can be a good thing if it brings on a healthy change. It’s amazing how every fiber of your being is affected by the other.
Regular exercise helps to…
1) improves cardiovascular health,
2) lowers blood pressure
3) helps control body weight
4) protects against a variety of diseases
“Exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body
freely and do their job efficiently.”(Health.harvard.edu)
Exercise is linked to increasing surveillance activity of the immune system. David Nieman,
Dr.PH., health professor at Appalachian State University and director of the Human Performance Lab at
the North Carolina Research Campus told Runner’s World. He also stated that is because exercise can
increase the exchange of white blood cells between peripheral tissues. This in turn helps with the
immune response of the body and the circulation of blood and lymph vessels. This will actually help the
immune cells because they (Immune cells) will be looking for viruses and will be traveling more and
further because of the extra circulation the exercise has caused.
Now that you see how exercise can benefit the immune system it’s time to look at how it could be counterproductive. Overtraining can lead to chronic fatigue, performance decline, mood disturbances, decrease in appetite, decease in sleep, etc. Some, maybe even all of these factors can decrease your immune function which can result in increased odds for respiratory infections.
Overtraining means not getting adequate rest and recovery (which is multi-faceted). Over time, overtraining can turn into chronic fatigue. (Dr. Nieman director of the Human Performance Lab at the North Carolina Research Campus told Runner’s World.) Physical activity is just one factor which helps the immune system. It is also very dependent on sleep, stress, and diet. So like most things that are good for you, in excess it can be counterproductive and actually unhealthy. Moderation is always important, but it can look different to everyone. I like using the Perceived Rate of Exertion (PRE) Scale which goes from 1-10. 1 meaning that it is not hard, intense, or breaking you down in any way. 10 meaning that is your top limit that you can’t maintain for
even a short time. In elite athletes they usually only spend about 5-10% of their training in the upper
range of that scale (9 and above). Pushing yourself is good to a point but, the harder you push the
more rest and recovery are pivotal.
I hope you are able to exercise effectively and efficiently and find the right intensity that works
for your current state and leads you to reach your goals! This is not an easy job which is why there is so
much literature on exercise programming. If you have any questions about how your exercise routine is
working for you, I’d love to sit down with you to see if what you are doing is enough, too much, or just
right. Keep in mind it is recommended that every person gets at least 150 mins of low to moderate
intensity exercise every week at minimum. At the maximum, remember the symptoms of overtraining
and if you’re experiencing any of those symptoms try to focus more on rest and recovery.
Personal Fitness Trainer