There’s no end of advice around at the moment about lowering our risk of infection from Covid-19. It’s sound advice from experts and we should all be conscientiously following it. But it did get me wondering, where does exercise fit into all of this?
It’s an accepted fact that exercise improves our health and wellbeing, but to what degree when it comes to immune resiliency? While contemplating this, an email arrived in my inbox from a very reliable source about a scientific review paper entitled: The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system. It was published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science, May 2019.
The following are the most relevant paragraphs taken from the review’s conclusion1 and support BodyTech’s mantra of high effort, high intensity, but brief and infrequent, exercise:
- The immune system is very responsive to exercise, with the extent and duration reflecting the degree of physiological stress imposed by the workload.
(NB: The term workload means the total volume or amount of exercise encountered,)
- Acute exercise (moderate-to-vigorous intensity, less than 60 min) is now viewed as an important immune system adjuvant to stimulate the ongoing exchange of distinct and highly active immune cell subtypes between the circulation and tissues.
- In contrast, high exercise training workloads (high volumes), competition events, and the associated physiological, metabolic, and psychological stress are linked with transient immune perturbations, inflammation, oxidative stress, muscle damage, and increased illness risk.
- Illness risk may be increased when an athlete competes, goes through repeated cycles of unusually heavy exertion, and experiences other stressors to the immune system. Other illness risk factors include high levels of depression or anxiety, participation in unusually intensive training periods with large fluctuations, international travel across several time zones, participation in competitive events especially during the winter, lack of sleep, and low diet energy intake.
- Several epidemiologic studies also suggest that regular physical activity is associated with decreased mortality and incidence rates for influenza and pneumonia.
- Regular exercise training has an overall anti-inflammatory influence mediated through multiple pathways. Epidemiologic studies consistently show decreased levels of inflammatory biomarkers in adults with higher levels of physical activity and fitness, even after adjustment for potential confounders such as BMI.
So stick with your high intensity training, keep following the advice of experts, and your immune system will be in the best shape to fight this nasty virus.
Peter Rana, Founder