We all know that exercise is beneficial for our health. It helps to keep us strong, maintain a healthy weight as well as improve our mental wellbeing. It is also thought that exercise helps to mobilise the white blood cells in our body so that they can fight off any germs or infections we might be exposed to. And, in light of COVID-19, a strong immune system is more important than ever. But can your workout also hinder your bodies’ ability to fight off infections?
IMPACTS ON IMMUNITY
Exercise could make you more susceptible to infections and compromise your immune system – but only if you’re training particularly hard. Research has shown that more than 90 minutes of high-intensity endurance exercise, for example, marathon or triathlon runners, are more likely to catch a virus for up to 72 hours after their workout. A workout of such high intensity is stressful on your body and leads it to produce stress hormones – cortisol and adrenaline, raise blood pressure and suppress your immune system.
This will also affect all you fitness enthusiasts, if you are overtraining hard for an extended period of time you can also make yourself more susceptible to catching a bug or virus as it may cause fatigue.
In addition, so that it’s not a shock to the system, if you don’t currently train regularly, make sure to start your fitness regime gradually to allow your body time to adjust. And, if you are already unwell, it is also best to avoid exercise and let your immune system focus on fighting the infection.
However, if you make sure to incorporate rest and recovery into your exercise regime, you will be able to maintain a healthy immune system. It is important to strike the right balance between exercise and recovery and this includes eating nutrient-dense foods before and after working out to ensure that you are replenishing your body with the protein, carbohydrates and other vital nutrients it needs to recover.
BENEFITS FOR IMMUNITY
Whilst regular high-intensity workouts and overtraining could be detrimental to your health and the strength of your immune system, regular and moderate exercise has many benefits for our body. In fact, it can lower your risk of infection.
Moderate exercise, approximately thirty minutes a day for three times a week, enhances the movement of white blood cells throughout the body, this helps to strengthen your immune system by allowing these cells to do their job efficiently. If repeated regularly, this can lead to fewer illnesses and less inflammation of the body in the long term.
Working out will also help you to maintain a healthy weight which is essential for the overall health of your body and its organs. It will also release endorphins, the happy hormones, which in turn improves your sleep quality and reduces stress levels – two other known components that can compromise our immune systems. When a consistent workout routine is combined with regular sleep and the intake of healthy food, you have a recipe for success for a healthy immune system.
Be physically active every day, whether that involves walking, running, a trip to the gym, a boxing class or even just gardening. Just be mindful of overdoing it as too much exercise can actually be detrimental. You can join The Ring @ Home and workout with our coaches and community! Remember to allow your body and your immune system time to recover, particularly after ‘stressful’ high-intensity workouts.
Keep your body moving, it will thank you!