Currently, the positive impact of exercise on physical and mental well-being is highly publicized. But what about increasing our resistance to more communicable diseases like the flu and the common cold? Can exercise also increase immune function and improve our chances of resisting this type of disease as well?
Exercise plays an important role in maintaining good heart, lung, bone, muscle and metabolic health. It also helps in the management and prevention of various non-communicable diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, type II diabetes, asthma and osteoporosis (just to name a few). Exercise also contributes significantly to controlling mental health and mood. This goes through several pathways, including increased secretion of endorphins or “feeling good hormones” such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which play an important role in regulating your mood. Equally important, exercise can also suppress the secretion of stress hormones such as cortisol, which will allow you to feel more optimistic and able to face the world.
There has been a lot of research and debate in recent times about the effect of exercise to improve immune function and reduce the risk of getting contagious or infectious. While this is an area of ongoing research, recent studies have shown that acute attacks (rated as sixty minutes or less) of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise can lead to increased recruitment and secretion of a number of proteins and substances such as immunoglobulin and inflammatory cytokines. Both are related to improved metabolic health and immune activity.
And consistency also counts!
It seems that exercising regularly throughout your life can also slow down the decline in immune function along with the changes that can occur with aging, reducing the risk of infection as we age.
So what exercise should you do?
Australian physical activity guidelines recommend that adults perform a minimum of thirty minutes of physical activity a day, with an accumulation of 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity per week. Examples of moderate-intensity physical activity may include brisk walking, golf, dancing, biking, recreational swimming, Pilates, yoga, or even household chores such as sucking, rake, and gardening. Examples of vigorous intensity exercise may include heavy lifting, running, cycling at a higher speed, HIIT-type workouts, and twisting classes. They also recommend strengthening exercise twice a week along with the goal of frequently breaking the sedentary time, limiting it to no more than an hour at a time.
Similarly, older adults (classified as over 65) are recommended to accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most, but preferably daily. This should be a wide range of activities, including aerobics, strength, flexibility and balance.
The recommendations differ slightly for children, who are recommended to perform at least sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day. It is also recommended that children limit their sedentary time to no more than two hours a day and are also encouraged to break their sedentary time throughout the day. The guidelines also recommend that children ages 5-13 accumulate 9-11 hours of sleep per night, while children ages 14 to 17 should aim to sleep uninterruptedly for 8-10 hours per night.
Among many in society there is a common misconception that exercise has a negative impact on immune function, which causes them to increase their susceptibility to the disease. However, research has shown that this is not entirely true.
It is true that when it comes to exercise and immunity, there seems to be a “sweet spot” in terms of the duration and frequency of the exercise dose. For most of us, however, we will not be close to reaching the threshold for “too much” exercise.
Research has shown that the load needed to suppress immune function is only commonly seen in elite athletes during intense training blocks where they engage in a high load of vigorous intensity activity over an extended period of time, often together. with multiple competitions. However, this is often combined with other stressors that researchers say could also contribute to this immune suppression, including changes in sleep patterns, reduced energy intake, along with travel and psychological factors. .
With the approach of the colder months and the shorter daylight hours of the day, it’s not uncommon to see more people giving the button to postpone and skipping the morning race or Pilates session. Now, with many gyms and indoor gym facilities still closed, many find staying active or staying active is quite a challenge. However, to get the benefits of exercise you need to be consistent throughout the year.
Here are some tips to help you account for and prevent you from falling victim to the winter break.