We all know how important exercise and physical activity can be for our overall health.
It keeps our muscles strong and supple, helps us lose body fat and leads to the release of some fantastic feel-good endorphins.
But how about for boosting your immune system?
Turns out regular exercise is not only beneficial for a healthy immune system, but seems absolutely crucial!
So now let’s look at three main ways exercise may help out your immune system and/or your immune function.
What does your metabolism have to do with your immunity?!?!
Well with this current virus going around, many people who have the worst possible outcomes from it are largely those with pre-existing health conditions.
These include conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
What’s the common factor among all these?
It’s that they’re largely the outcomes of a poor metabolism and lifestyle.
Exercise is a hugely important piece to consider when looking at improving our overall health and metabolism.
By improving our metabolism, we are reducing our risk!
The lymphatic system operates alongside the cardiovascular system (think veins and arteries), yet it doesn’t get a whole lot of attention.
It is heavily involved in the immune system, playing an integral role in our immune system’s first line of defence.
So, how does exercise fit into this?
Unlike the cardiovascular system that has a heart to pump blood around, the lymphatic system has nothing to pump lymph fluid around.
Movement and deep diaphragmatic breathing are what stimulate the movement of lymph fluid.
To keep a healthy lymph system and therefore a healthy immune system, we need to make sure we move that lymph!
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We’re all familiar with the elevated heart rate that comes along with exercise.
Turns out this is part of how it can help the immune system as well.
By improving blood flow, our body is able to deliver white blood cells and nutrients much further and faster than without exercise!
A little added bonus is that exercise stimulates the release of Nitric Oxide.
This is what gives our muscles that pumped up feeling when working out (#thepump).
It turns out that while nitric oxide can temporarily make your muscles look a bit bigger, it also has some antiviral properties too!
Hold on there, more is not always better
In the age and culture we live in, there’s a mentality where if one is good then ten must be a whole lot better.
This is not true of a lot of things and especially in the nutrition and exercise realm.
There comes a point where too much exercise can actually be very harmful to your overall health and particularly the immune system.
In fact, right after exercising, our gut is a lot more permeable (aka leaky gut) which can make put an extra demand on our immune system.
This is why the amount of exercise you do is just as important as whether or not you exercise in the first place.
What to do if you’re injured?
Contrary to popular belief, exercise doesn’t have to be a suffer fest.
It’s a good idea to include lots of little bouts of movement throughout the day.
This is actually a characteristic of blue zones (areas where a lot of people live beyond 100 years of age), as their days are filled with lots of low level activity.
So, depending on the injury, there is usually something you can do to keep active.
It could be as simple as going for a walk, a light swim, a bike ride around the neighbourhood, doing some spring cleaning and much more.
Wrapping it all up
If you’re struggling to make the time to exercise?
Perhaps a little less time cooking, cleaning and dealing with other daily chores would help you.
Here's a few suggestions for you to win back some time.
Or you could read through a few of our older blog posts that have some great time saving tips.