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  • Writer's pictureMick Hurrell

Can regular exercise help your immune system protect you against disease and infection?

There’s no argument that exercise and other physical activities are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. They improve fitness and can help with things like cardiovascular function. The people who stay the healthiest don’t just sit there. They move – every day.

But can we use exercise to help boost ourselves against infectious illness? From improved tolerance to stress to the physical changes that take place when you exercise, exercise has a set of mechanisms that can help you to better resist infections.

So. do get your daily exercise in. It’s good for fitness and it can help to boost your immunity. Just follow government advice for leaving home and practice social distancing. Be safe at all times.

One of the best side effects from exercise is stress relief. Stress weakens your immune system. Another important benefit is improved circulation, which allows the parts of the immune system, like immune cells and antibodies, to move more freely through your body and be more efficient at their job. – helping to properly moderate your inflammation response, another important part of a strong immune system.

Regular exercise is an important player in getting a good night’s sleep, which is also important for a healthy immune system. Just don’t work out too late in the evening: give yourself a couple of hours to wind down after exercise before you have to go to bed.

Physical activity that gets your blood pumping can also help flush bacteria out of your lungs and airways, which can reduce the risk of those taking hold and you getting the cold or flu.

One thing to be aware of, though. Too much exercise, or an exercise routine that is too intense can increase stress and decrease immunity.

That doesn’t mean you can’t workout hard —you need some intensity if you want to get fit. If you’re getting 30-40 minutes of moderate exercise a day, with regular bouts of high-intensity thrown in, you’re doing fine. A good basic framework is:

– 20-30 minutes of aerobic activity 3-4 days a week.

– 1-2 shorter, high-intensity workouts a week.

If you already exercise, you don’t need to increase just to boost your immunity. Just keep in mind that long-term intense training without recovery can actually cause physical stress and harm to your immune system.

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