The cooler, dryer weather season is fast approaching as well as the cold and flu season. Researchers have found that as little as 20 minutes of exercise can have anti-inflammatory effects that boost your immune system. Some theories why exercise helps your immune system include:
1. Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways.
2. Exercise causes changes in antibodies and white blood cells (WBC) which are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease. These WBCs circulate more rapidly during and following exercise, so they could detect illnesses earlier than they might have before.
3. The brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing.
4. Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones. Some stress hormones increase the chance of illness.
Exercise is good for you, but don’t overdo it. Heavy, long-term exercise (such as marathon running or intense gym training) could actually cause harm as far as your immune system. Studies have shown that people who follow a moderately energetic lifestyle benefit most from a regular moderate exercise program.
Moderate exercise has an abundance of other health benefits, helping decrease your chances of developing heart disease, keeping your bones healthy and strong, controlling hypertension and diabetes, preventing Alzheimer’s, reducing anxiety and stress, and slowing the aging process.
Exercise makes you feel healthier and more energetic. So take that aerobics class, start a walking program on a regular basis, or team up with a friend for a yoga class. Remember, 20 minutes on a regular basis can help keep those cold and flu bugs away!