Not only does exercise help fight against preventable diseases, aid in fat loss, increase muscle gains, reduce stress (the bad kind!), but it also helps to strengthen your immune system to fend off those illness-causing intruders! Continue reading to find out how!
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), “Each bout of exercise, particularly whole-body dynamic cardiorespiratory exercise, instantaneously mobilizes literally billions of immune cells, especially those cell types that are capable of carrying out effector functions such as the recognition and killing of virus-infected cells.”1
So what does that mean?
When we exercise, we increase circulation and blood flow. Studies have shown that when this happens, we also increase production and circulation of specialized immune cells, specifically natural killer cells and T cells.2 These cells work to seek out pathogens and virus-infected cells to kill them off so that they are removed from our system. As we increase the production and circulation of these immune cells, they can more quickly catch these intruders and lessen the amount of potential havoc that can be wreaked on our bodies.
What kind of exercise, you ask?
Dr. Nieman, who pioneered the study above, found that the participants who completed 45 minutes of brisk walking experienced an increase of immune cells floating around their bodies for up to three hours post-exercise!2 As you continue to exercise consistently, this immune response builds on itself to have a longer, more robust and effective response.
In another study, Dr. Nieman found that over a 12 week period, participants who completed aerobic exercise 5 days or more a week, lessened the amount of days sick with upper respiratory infections (like a cold/flu) by over 40% and reduced how severe their symptoms were as well, when compared to the group that completed 1 or less days of aerobic exercise.3
What is a good overall weekly goal to shoot for (for exercise)?
- At least, 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic exercise4
- At least, 2 days per week of muscular strength/endurance training, working all major muscle groups (full-body)4
Don’t forget to rest! Exercising too much or at a consistently high intensity for too long can give the opposite results from the positive ones we are looking for. Resting helps us build our bodies back up versus continuously breaking it down day after day.
These recommendations were created by the collaboration between the the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), & the U.S. Surgeon General.6
If you would like to begin exercising and are unsure where to begin, consider working with a professional and hiring a personal trainer, like myself. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.