We know there are many health benefits to leading an active lifestyle – one very important health benefit is that exercise enhances immune competency, particularly in older adults who are at greater risk of infection.
Exercise has been demonstrated to reduce the incidence of communicable diseases such as viral infections in addition to chronic diseases and non-communicable diseases such as cancer and chronic inflammatory disorders. Studies show improved immune surveillance to bacterial and viral antigens following bouts of exercise, in addition to the reduction/delay of ageing effects on the immune system through regular physical activity. This is great news for us at a time when we are looking for proactive ways to boost our immunity.
Scientists have discovered that the behaviour of almost all immune cell populations in the bloodstream is altered in some way after exercise. In fact, contemporary evidence emphasises that the immune system is in a heightened state of surveillance and regulation, particularly at about 1-2 hours after exercise. It appears that a specialised and systemic response occurs with mobilisation of immune cells to peripheral tissues, specifically in large numbers at mucosal surfaces such as the gut and lungs. It is thought that these immune cells identify and eradicate other cells infected with pathogens or those that have become damaged or malignant, along with the stimulation of immune cell production in the bone marrow.
Regular exercise is also championed as a means of enhancing the immune system’s competency in older adults, particularly those aged over 60 years. Studies show that people engaging in regular, moderate to vigorous exercise of at least 20 minutes, three or more times per week have a greater immunity response compared with those who do not exercise.
Additionally, there is scientific support for exercise as immunotherapy for cancer following observation of anti-tumour behaviour of immune cells after exercise.
So, make sure you keep moving regularly to improve your immunity, and if you’re when you feel the time is right, schedule in some exercise with our team of health and movement professionals at The Body Refinery. We have a range of options available to you, including online classes, 1-on-1 exercise physiology sessions, 1-on-1 physio-led clinical rehabilitation sessions, and small group clinical rehab classes that are taken by a physiotherapist. There is no better way to commit to your self-care and boost immunological health at the same time.
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Written by Sarah Holloway, Myotherapist and Pilates Instructor