It's that time of year. Cold AND flu season, and let's not even go there about the other virus we need to worry about right now...
Protecting yourself from viruses can be as easy as washing your hands. But believe it or not, there are a lot of ways fitness can help with immunity.
Does exercise boost your immune system?
As well as improving your mental health, exercise improves your immune response, reduces inflammation, and can also lower your illness risk.
Exercise increases the flow of your blood and lymph as your muscles contract. It also helps circulate immune cells like T cells which latch onto viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms and brings them to our organs like the spleen where they're destroyed. A study from the Journal of Sport and Health Science showed in a study that participants who took a 45-minute walk had these immune cells floating around in their systems for up to 3 hours after they finished.
This also compounds over time, so the more active you are more often, the higher the number of immune cells you have.
What's the best exercise to boost immunity?
The best exercises you can do for your immune system are aerobically based. Things like running/walking, or cycling. There is less science around strength training and HIIT workouts but those studies have shown that these workouts don't lower immunity either.
A 45-minute aerobic session with a moderate intensity will do wonders for your immune system.
That being said not ALL exercise is helpful. You need to listen to your body. If you're recovering from an illness, start slow and stop before you reach exhaustion. A brisk walk, while you're recovering, is a great idea. Omit any intense strength or interval training until you're feeling at least 80% better.
Next blog post: How to deal with gym anxiety.
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