Why Exercise is Key to Your Immune System Health
There is no denying that regular exercise is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise, like eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, not smoking, and trying to minimize stress are all important pieces of the healthy lifestyle puzzle.
However, for many people regular exercise is one of the hardest lifestyle habits to incorporate and enjoy. Well, we’re here to tell you that it’s time to make a change and get on the regular exercise train. Now, more than ever we understand the power of exercise and it’s key that you incorporate a walk, swim, yoga, bicycle ride, or some other type of movement into your day.
Your immune system will thank you. Your body will be stronger – inside and out. You’ll feel better, look better, and be better able to fend off colds and flus. In fact, regular exercise along with a balanced lifestyle could make you one of those people who never catches a cold or flu. All thanks to the power of exercise and looking after your immune system health.
Science, Exercise, and Your Immune System
Now, it’s not just us at AHCC Research who thinks you should incorporate regular exercise in your day-to-day routines. Science tells us that exercise is one of the best ways you can support your immune system and give it the boost it needs.
You have two basic types of immunity: innate and adaptive. Your innate immune system launches an immediate, non-specific attack against a threat. Your adaptive immunity takes longer to kick in, but produces a specific response to a particular microbe.
Your sympathetic nervous system is the central pathway that increases your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing. When your sympathetic nervous system is stimulated, hormones are released into your body that result in the suppression of key cytokines (part of your innate immune system). These cytokines are responsible for boosting your immune response, including eliminating cancer cells and providing positive inflammatory responses.
We know that regular exercise is key to preventing cardiovascular disease, preventing heart disease, and in preventing your sympathetic nervous system from becoming over-stimulated.
Research also shows that exercise can result in positive changes in your antibodies and white blood cells. Your white blood cells (part of the innate immune system) and antibodies circulate more quickly in your blood stream when you’ve been exercising regularly, making it easier for illness or infection to be detected earlier and faster.
Along with supporting and strengthening your immune system and sympathetic nervous system, regular exercise benefits your body in other ways:
- There is a theory that exercise helps flush or remove bacteria from your lungs and airways. This can help reduce your chances of catching a flu or cold.
- Exercise creates an increase in your body temperature. A slightly elevated body temperature has been shown to suppress the growth of bacteria and help you fight infections.
- Exercise is instrumental in suppressing the release and activation of stress hormones. This is why so many people find exercise is an ideal stress outlet. The lower your stress hormones, the stronger your body is and the better able your immune system is equipped to protect you from illness.
To sum up, exercise is good for you. It contributes to supporting and strengthening your immune system, helps protect your sympathetic nervous system, helps fight infections, and allows you to lower your level of stress hormones.
What is the Best Type of Exercise for Immune System Health?
Moderate regular exercise is proven to be best for your immune system. Science tells us that moderate exercise rather than super-strenuous exercise is best in supporting your immune system.
Try to incorporate regular moderate exercise into your routine:
- A daily 20 to 30 minute walk.
- A regular bicycle ride with your family or kids around the neighborhood or on a bicycle path.
- A weight-lifting or gym workout every other day.
- Getting out for a golf game or tennis match.
- Swimming, water aerobics, or pool running.
- Yoga such as hatha or warm power.
- Regular gardening, yard work, and other outdoor tasks.
The key is in choosing an exercise or sport that you enjoy. Don’t force yourself to swim or play tennis if you don’t enjoy these activities. Choose something you enjoy and set a goal of doing this activity every other day. Then as you get more used to how your body feels with exercise - try to add in longer or frequent exercise sessions.
For example, you could go to the gym for an exercise class on Monday and Wednesday and then on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday you could get out for 30-minute walk on your lunch hour. That’s all it takes.
Whatever type of exercise you decide to incorporate into your healthy lifestyle, the key is sticking with it and in keeping it moderate. By doing too much or working out too hard, you over-stress your body which can backfire and make you more susceptible to illness.
Remember that along with your regular exercise routine, other healthy habits such as a balanced diet, taking an all-natural immune system supplement, not smoking, getting adequate sleep, and reducing negative stress – are all keys to keeping you strong and healthy.