There are still people who see exercise only as an obligation to lose weight or improve their figure. However, this is a very limited view of the effects of exercise on our bodies. In fact, exercise is one of the three rules for a strong immune system, along with healthy eating and hydration.
But what is the immune system for? Which sport is best for strengthening? How does exercise affect the immune system? We’ll tell you!
Target of the immune system
When a pathogenic microorganism or other foreign substance enters the body, the immune system is responsible for identifying and attacking it. Therefore, this complex network of cells, tissues and organs is popularly referred to as the body’s “defense”.
Their main goal is to locate and defend ourselves against viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi that can cause disease. However, the immune system can undergo changes due to some diseases, seasonal changes, pollution or advanced age, which can increase the risk of certain infections.
On the other hand, there are other factors that we can control and that can also influence the immune system. The Physiotherapy and Physical Activity team of Quirónprevención tells us about it: “There are a number of other factors that we can largely control, such as Diet, rest, tobacco, caffeine, stress or a sedentary lifestyle “Therefore, physical exercise is one of the activities with which we can strengthen our immune system.”
Warning of weak defenses
The body sends us signals to tell us that the immune system is not working as it should. A number of symptoms can occur, especially when our defenses are weakened:
- Lack of energy
- Allergic reaction
- Wounds that heal more slowly
- Constant colds
How exercise affects the immune system
It’s common to look for the perfect exercise to tone your body, get a flat stomach, or define your buttocks. But what about its “other” effects on the body?
The truth is that exercise can strengthen the immune system by stimulating the number of leukocytes and making them move faster. Leukocytes perform such important functions as removing waste from tissue and defending the body.
However, The intensity of the workout can make the workout an ally or the opposite. As the specialists explain: “Physical exercise is one of the modifiable factors and, depending on intensity, duration and chronicity, has positive or negative effects on the immune response.”
In the short term, strenuous physical activity can have a negative impact on the immune system and, as a result, weaken the immune system. Specific, After a high-intensity workout, a decrease in the number of leukocytes, or white blood cells, is observed in the following two hours. as well as a lower activity of these, which can lead to infections. In this sense, Quirónprevención points out that “the prolongation of this oppression depends on the duration and intensity of the exercise and that in this state the person is susceptible to infectious diseases.”
Instead, In the medium or long term, physical exercise can stimulate an increase in leukocytes and their activity, This leads to a strengthening of the immune system and thus an increase in the defense against infectious diseases. For this reason, our experts recommend: “It is very important to manage the intensity of our training to protect it.”
What to do in case of illness?
Exercise is an ally in the treatment of cancer or depression, and it has even been observed that some sports can add years to your life.
If you have diseases of the immune system, it is better not to continue training as usual. Instead, it is advisable to take a break, as experts emphasize: “After the necessary rest period, you should start with low-intensity programs Because even a single training session stimulates our immune system positively Regular exercise ensures a better immune status“.
How to strengthen your immune system with exercise
Moderate aerobic exercise is most beneficial for the immune system. Cycling, swimming or running, for example, can help us strengthen our defenses against infections.
There are also strength exercises, which also have a very positive effect on your health. “Strength training not only improves our immune system directly, but also indirectly and keeps our metabolism under control,” emphasize physiotherapists.