Strengthening Your Immune System

Through Exercise

We all know that exercise is a great way to reduce stress but it can also help protect us from getting sick. Research is now showing a link between MODERATE, regular exercise and a strong immune response. Exercise is also very important in keeping our bowels regular, and avoiding constipation.young fitness woman hiker legs at forest trail

How does it work?

Well, a few things happen when we exercise

  1. Immune cells circulate through the body more quickly making the immune cells’ reaction-time better. There is also a boost in the production of macrophages, the cells that attack bacteria.
  2. Our body increases the speed at which it removes waste products by an increase in our breathing rate and through sweat. This extra waste removal decreases our risk of infection simply because fewer infectious agents are present in the body.
  3. Our temperature rises and this helps to kill some of the bacteria (similar to what happens when we have a fever).

Rear view of a yoga class performing some stretchesResearch by professor David Nieman, PhD, of Appalachian State University, shows that those who walk at 70-75% of their target heart rate for 40 minutes per day had half as many sick days due to colds or sore throats as those who didn’t exercise.

On the other hand, very intense workouts (over 90 minutes of intense exercise) can reduce the immune response. So long workouts need to be coupled with shorter training, rest days and meditation!! If you are already feeling run down – stick to the shorter, less intense workouts.

Keep in mind that the type of activity also affects the immune response. All immune cells originate in the bone marrow. So impact activities like dancing, walking, running, weightbearing Yoga or Tai Chi stimulate the bones and the bone marrow to a greater degree than non-impact sports like swimming.