Exercise and the Immune System

April 6, 2020 | By R.Gamiz

( Part # 3 of Becoming Anti-Fragile Series)

With everything going on these days it can be challenging to work up the motivation to exercise. Today I would like to bring you a very compelling reason to start or if you have been exercising, why now is not the time to lay off and take a break. 

Exercise boosts your Immune System

The main function of our immune system is to protect us against disease or other potentially damaging foreign bodies including viruses (like coronavirus), bacteria and parasites. We can keep our immune system balanced and help increase its effectiveness with regular exercise. It is believed that physical activity 

  • Helps to flush out bacteria and viruses from the lungs and airways. Reducing your chances of an infection from these pathogens. 
  • Increases antibodies and White Blood Cells (WBC). Increases circulation of antibodies and WBC, therefore improving chances for detection of invading pathogens. It’s like putting your security forces on patrol, rather than waiting for the attack. 
  • Destroys dangerous pathogens as increase in body temperature occurs during and after exercise. Same reason we begin to feel better after a fever breaks. 
  • Reduces stress hormones. Elevations in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to reduce immunoglobulin A (IgA). IgA is the principal antibody of our mucosal surfaces (nose, mouth and airways).

Our immune system has a monumental job. Right now more than ever! Optimizing your immune system should be a priority during a pandemic. 

Immunity and Aging

As we age our immune systems like many others begin to lose their vigor.  The immune system starts to decline in our 20s. The thymus gland that sits behind our breastbone is a major component of our immune system (development of T-cells) and begins to atrophy (decay) during puberty.  This is why we see more infections with coronavirus in those in their 60s and beyond. There are studies that suggests that exercising regularly can also increase circulation of T-cells.

In an April 2019 article from the Centeno-Schultz clinic it was reported that a recent study was performed to determine if the immune system could benefit from exercise during aging. There were three groups of participants: 

Group 1. Long-distance cyclists (age 55–79) with a long history of exercise.

Group 2.  An inactive, healthy group in the same age range.

Group 3. An inactive, healthy group of young adults. 

Multiple immune function levels were analyzed, including T cells, cytokines, and others.

The results. Compared to the older participants in the healthy, inactive group, the immune functions were significantly better in the active cyclists. Interestingly, in certain immune levels, such as the production of T cells, the active cyclists’ levels were comparable to the young healthy, inactive group. Meaning, in some immune functions, exercise into your 50s, 60s, and 70s could slow decline so drastically that it matches that of someone half or more of their age.

The research concluded was that our immune system decline may result from less exercise as we age. This suggests that rather than becoming less active (which usually starts in our 20s for most of us), we need to keep exercising throughout life to keep our immune system at top performance.

In order to slow or prevent many of the signs of aging including the weakening of the immune system as you age regular exercise needs to be one of the arrows in your quiver. 

Now is the time

With all of the changes going around us right now, it is understandable that stress levels are elevated. Now more than ever is the time to get started or develop a routine. Many people are now working from home. This means no morning or evening commute, so you now have the time for exercise. Not sure how to get started? Cant go to the gym? I have developed a home exercise program that will take you 30 minutes. This program will hit all the major muscle groups. The exercises can be performed at home with little or no equipment needed. You will get an upper body, abdominal, lower back, leg and cardiovascular workout in 30 minutes at home. If you would like a FREE pdf file with worksheet and instructions sign up for my email list and I will sent that over to you. 

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