Immunity has been the primary health concern for many people during this pandemic. Many products took advantage and they are being advertised as immunity boosters for health. But did you know, you already possess the guide to a better immune system?
Diet and exercise - The two things that many of us find difficult to maintain. It is a necessary evil that you cannot do away with. According to a research study, maintaining a proper exercise regimen can do wonders for your immunity. It can help reduce the chances of falling sick and prepares your body better for fighting illnesses.
But how can something as simple as exercise help with immunity? We are all aware of the many cardiovascular diseases today that are associated with old age. Something as simple as walking 20-60 minutes a day can reduce the risk of heart diseases. Exercise leads to double the number of mitochondria present in your cells.
A throwback to school science - mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Cardiovascular exercise has higher energy demands which lead to the duplication of mitochondria in each cell. This increase in mitochondria, in turn, helps you keep the cardiovascular system young and healthy. A healthy cardiovascular system means that blood flow throughout the body and the resting heart rate is functioning better than most sedentary individuals.
But what about those who want to workout when they are sick? A research study suggests following the ‘above the neck’ rule. If your symptoms lie above your neck, proceed to exercise at half the speed that you usually do. Continue to workout at an average pace if your head feels clear, or stop if you are not feeling good.
This is not just limited to cardiovascular activities. Lifting weights in the gym and doing regular yoga practice can also have the same effect on your immune system. Along with the muscles to flaunt, you will have more strength, bone density, and a healthy immune system when subjected to lifting weights regularly. Yoga practice advocates eating and living healthy. This leads to a better immune system functioning, flexibility and reduced weight.
However, not all exercise increases your white blood cell count and boosts the immune system. Performing something that is as strenuous as a HIIT (https://zymrat.com/blogs/the-high-road/hiit-the-gamechanger-for-your-fitness) workout can lead to a compromised immune system for 2-4 hours post-exercise. Similar kinds of high-intensity workouts at the gym or elsewhere can increase stress levels which results in a vulnerable immune system. To avoid risking infection at this stage, it is necessary to stay away from outdoor areas. Eating healthy after an intense workout can minimise muscle loss and help the immune system to fight back better against foreign bacteria.
Exercise does help improve immunity in many ways. Along with the added benefits of performing the activity, it provides us with a better functioning immune system and a capable body that can live longer and healthier. We tend to turn to medicines when we fall sick, but it is essential to look into a healthy lifestyle if the sickness occurs often. You need not exercise heavy, even moderate or light exercise can bring many health benefits and reduce the risk of infections.
So do not fret over the many multivitamins available on the market for commercial consumption but instead, exercise and adopt a healthier lifestyle to help you become a force to reckon with when it comes to infections and viruses.
Smith, J. A., & Weidemann, M. J. (1990). The exercise and immunity paradox: A neuro-endocrine/cytokine hypothesis. Medical Science Research, 18(19), 749–753.
Eichner, E. R. (1993). Infection, Immunity, and Exercise. The Physician and Sportsmedicine, 21(1), 125–135.
Nieman, D. C. (2011). Moderate Exercise Improves Immunity and Decreases Illness Rates. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 5(4), 338–345.