It is no surprise that one of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to commit to weekly jogs or walks to keep fit and stay in shape. From lowering the risks of heart disease to helping safeguard brain health, exercise can play a significant role in aiding physical and mental wellbeing.
In this respect, another vital aspect of regular exercise is that it can support a healthy immune system. A 2018 study in China showed that people who work out at least three times per week decreased their likelihood of catching a cold by 26%.
Here, we explore the relationship between exercise and a healthy immune system, explaining how physical activity can prevent infections.
How exercise helps the immune system
Exercising brings a large array of benefits. It only takes some light, low-intensity activity, for instance, to lift a person’s mood and tackle elements of depression. But that certainly isn’t its only advantage.
A recent study suggests there is a strong link between physical activity and our defense system. In fact, exercise has been found to aid your immunity, decrease the risk of infection, and reduce inflammation. In what way? Humans have only a limited number of immune cells roaming around their body, as they tend to stay in organs (e.g. spleen) and lymphoid tissues. With exercise, however, the contraction of muscles increases lymph and blood flow, which aids the circulation of immune cells throughout the body. By traveling at a higher number and rate, these cells will find it easier to track down pathogens and get rid of them.
It’s important to realize that this response will not last forever. This is why it’s crucial to exercise on a regular basis; to ensure the process is repeated.
Finding the right balance
Regular physical activity is fundamental to supporting a healthy immune system. Daily workouts can go a long way in improving well-being and truly benefitting overall health. However, it’s crucial to find the right balance. In fact, high-intensity activity for a prolonged period of time can have a negative impact on sleep patterns and energy intake.
A 30-minute activity session is enough to support the immune system. Going for a walk, playing golf, enjoying a relaxing swim, or heading to a dance class are all viable options. If the weather outside is not inspiring, practice some indoor yoga and Pilates – even vacuuming and gardening count towards daily exercise requirements.
That said, there are things that exercise cannot help, such as physical issues that require surgery. In this respect, a private health insurance plan can help access surgery quicker and offer some well-deserved peace of mind. In fact, benefitting from swift care can lower stress levels and ensure you’re in pain for less time.
With the clear, proven relationship between exercise and a healthy immune system, physical activity is the perfect way to help support a great lifestyle.