Here’s some strong motivation for you to continue working out during the lockdown.
While we all know that being physically active is great for the Immune system, its immediate impact on it has been debated widely for decades now, with some studies even suggesting that our immunity is suppressed temporarily after a strenuous bout of exercise.
Now, here’s the good news.
A recent article published in the journal Frontiers In Immunology, debunks this age-old myth, establishing that the changes taking place in the immune system after a strenuous bout of exercise boost the immune system, rather than leaving it suppressed.
The earlier studies suggested that the hours after rigorous exercise acted as an ‘open-window’ during which the immune system is compromised, exposing the body and leading to subsequent infections over the next few days.
In reality, however, here’s what happens when you exercise:
- The number of natural killer cells in the bloodstream increases by up to 10 times.
- In the next few hours these cells, primed by exercise, get redistributed to outlying tissues in the lungs and other places, which increases immune surveillance leading to enhanced antibacterial and antiviral immunity.
- A reduction in inflammation improves the immune function and delays immunological aging.
Implications amidst the current outbreak?
Staying physically active not only reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and type II diabetes, but also diminishes the risk of contracting communicable diseases including viral and bacterial infections. This study further emphasizes that people should not put off exercise worrying that it will dampen their immune response.
In the context of the current viral outbreak, while the most important consideration is to reduce exposure from other people carrying the virus, the importance of staying active and healthy during this time, cannot be overlooked.
Regular exercise then, away from others, is just what the doctor has ordered.
- John P. Campbell, James E. Turner. Debunking the Myth of Exercise-Induced Immune Suppression: Redefining the Impact of Exercise on Immunological Health Across the Lifespan. Frontiers in Immunology, 2018; 9 DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.00648