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  • Writer's pictureDr Gi Ming Chan

Exercise For A Stronger Immune System

Updated: Aug 28, 2020

How’s Your New Year’s Resolution going? Is Exercise a Part of Your New Year’s Resolution? Here’s Another Reason Exercise is Great for You!

Most people exercise to lose weight and stay fit. But here’s another great reason exercise can do wonders for your body. In addition to helping you lose weight, exercise can also help make your immune system stronger and keep inflammation low! It becomes especially important if you’re someone who is sick often, suffer from allergies or have an autoimmune disease.

Interestingly, the immune system is very responsive to exercise. During aerobic exercise of less than 60 minutes duration, your white blood cells that protects against virus, bacteria and other infections increase. Studies on exercise immunology have found that when vaccinations are preceded by an acute exercise, there is an enhanced immune protection.

Exercise helps the body create cells against inflammation, therefore is a great tool to keep inflammation down. However, in general, moderate exercise training is unlikely to lower chronic inflammation at the individual level unless the exercise workload is increased to more than 300 minutes per week, in addition to a significant weight loss. Most studies have failed to demonstrate that inflammation is decreased by a significant level with exercise in the absence of weight loss. Therefore, it is very important to keep a healthy BMI, in order to obtain the full benefits of exercise.

More benefits to exercise include a decrease in oxidative stress. Exercise has been found to enhance our antioxidant defenses consisting of the enzymes superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase. Such enzymes are so important in helping us get rid of free radicals. Oxidative stress is a physiological imbalance between the levels of antioxidants and oxidants. When the production of free radicals exceed the level which the body’s natural antioxidant defense mechanism can cope with, it leads to oxidation of DNA, protein and lipids, which then leads to multiple disease conditions. Free radicals or oxidative stress has been associated with the incidence and progression of many health conditions such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular disorders, premature ageing, and other chronic conditions. People who are physically active, have a 50 percent lower chance of developing colon cancer.

Obesity, and common chronic diseases such as arthritis, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, specific types of cancer, and type II diabetes are characterized in part by high inflammation, oxidative stress and immune dysfunction. Therefore, it is very important to use exercise as part of one’s treatment and prevention to keep inflammation low, increase the antioxidant responses and keep our immune system balanced.

Interestingly, more recent studies have also indicated that exercise and physical fitness diversifies the gut microbiota, enhancing the number of good bacteria!! A diversified microbiota has been associated with a stronger immune system, better mood and sharper mind, less inflammation, and many other health benefits.


Spark by: John J. Ratey

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