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Work It! Role of Exercise in Immunity.

A weak immune system makes us susceptible to all kinds of illnesses. A Healthy immune system needs good nourishment. Good nutrition when coupled with regular exercise, can contribute to general good health and, therefore, to a strong immune system. The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity for all adults per week.

We are constantly exposed to germs and bacteria in our external environment. When these get into our body, they can make us ill. Our immune system is a large network of organs, white blood cells, antibodies & immunoglobulins (proteins) and immunity based biochemicals. This system is constantly working to protect us from foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. They work to counter and prevent the multiplication of any germs and bacteria, ensuring stability of our health.

We all know that being physically active and exercising regularly can help maintain a healthy weight, balance our mood, benefit heart health and keep our bones strong and healthy. Exercise is not just going to the gym. It can be any kind of movement like walking, running, weight training, yoga, cycling, dancing or swimming. It can even be playing a sport like basketball, football, cricket, etc. Regular consistent exercise can significantly support and enhance our immune system health as well. This is critically important, especially from a long-term health perspective.

Exercise benefits the immune system in many ways:

  • It encourages healthy blood circulation.

  • It improves the white blood cells and increases their movement and potential for fighting diseases.

  • It can help clear bacteria out of your airways. This may reduce occurrences of cold, flu, or other illnesses.

  • Elevated body temperature during exercise may prevent the growth of bacteria, strengthen antibodies and help fight infection.

  • Doing exercise the correct way can reduce stress hormones thereby protecting the immune system.

  • As we age our immune system gets weaker. Exercise slows down the ageing process and reduces the risk of infections.

  • It increases the defence mechanism of the immune system.

  • People who engage in regular moderate exercise are at a lower risk of upper respiratory tract infections.

Our fitness levels thus play an important role in positively influencing our immune system’s health and functionality. Participation in regular moderate exercise can improve baseline immune function, thereby, lowering the risk of infection. At the same time, chronic high-intensity training and overtraining can lower immune function, thereby increasing the risk of infection. Always maintain good hygiene during exercise and exercise in a way so as to not over train and activate too much cortisol (stress hormone) in the body. Keep yourself hydrated through the day and make sure you are getting adequate sleep for rest and recovery.

So, doing moderate physical activity every day can be a fun and healthy way to boost our immunity, along with good nutrition and adequate sleep.

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