Are you battling another cough or cold? Feeling tired all the time? You may feel better if you take a daily walk or follow a simple exercise routine a few times a week.
These days the positive impact of exercise on both physical and mental well-being are highly publicized. But what about boosting our resistance to more infectious diseases such as the flu and the common cold? Can exercise also boost immune function and improve our chances of resisting these types of conditions as well?
Health Benefits of Exercise
Exercise plays an influential role in maintaining good heart, lung, bone, muscular and metabolic health. It also helps manage and prevent several non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, asthma, and osteoporosis (just to name a few!). Exercise also contributes significantly to managing mental health and mood. This is done by working on several pathways, including the increased secretion of endorphins or “feel-good hormones”, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, all of which play an essential role in regulating your mood. Equally important, exercise can also suppress the secretion of stress hormones such as cortisol leaving you feeling more upbeat and capable of taking on the world!
Upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) can be used as one measure of immune function. A study has examined the impact of exercise on your susceptibility to colds and sinusitis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. It was found that high levels of physical fitness and near-daily cardiovascular activity reduced the frequency of URTIs by just over 40% over 12 weeks. The severity of symptoms was also reduced by over 30%.
Exercise responsibly! Plan-out your sessions, just like a pro.
Many questions that science has answered on ‘how to boost your immune system’ have come from professional athletes’ studies. Results have found that developing an individualized training and nutrition plan with plenty of time to sleep, nourish and hydrate your body will provide you with the support you need to succeed in boosting your immune system. (2)
Science has also repeatedly found that more exercise isn’t necessarily better, especially if you are feeling unwell. Even though you may have an important reason/event for wanting to look your best, without proper care and rest when you need it, you could risk overwhelming your body to a point where it then unleashes stress hormones that ‘panic’ your immune system.
To avoid overwhelming your body and suppressing its immune system functioning adequately, the best point of action during this time is to avoid workouts such as high intensity activities.
A great training option when you are feeling unwell is to do a virtual/online/Zoom training session. By doing this type of session, you can continue to train and stay motivated while you are unwell, as well as avoid spreading any illness you may have to others at your training facility.
During the current Coronavirus pandemic, if you are experiencing an illness, it’s also a positive move to avoid placing too much stress on muscles, which could lead to an increased risk of contracting an upper respiratory tract infection.
The only coughing we want to see in Studio is suggestive! That is ‘cough cough!’, to kick-off your training with a qualified professional who can monitor your body for any signs of strenuous activity. We can monitor signs of overstretching and provide you with exercises that will sustain your body throughout your workout. We’ll also modify any changes to your training in a way that strengthens your immune system by using healthy and manageable increments.
So, how much exercise should you be doing? (3)
In order to maintain a healthy body weight, reduce your chances of developing various lifestyle disease and to increase your immune system functioning, the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend adults engage in a minimum of thirty minutes of physical activity per day, with an accumulation of 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.
Examples of moderate-intensity physical activity can include brisk walking, golf, dancing, bike riding, recreational swimming, Pilates, yoga or even household chores such as vacuuming, raking and gardening. Examples of vigorous-intensity exercise include heavy weightlifting, running, bike riding at a more incredible speed, HIIT type workouts and spin classes. They also recommend strengthening exercise twice a week and aiming to frequently break up sedentary time, limiting it to no more than one hour at a time.
Likewise, older adults (classified as those 65 years and older) are encouraged to accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most, but preferably all days. This should be a range of activities including aerobic, strength, flexibility and balance.