How Exercise Boosts Your Immune System
Whatever your pre-pandemic fitness routine was, it’s more than likely you experienced some disruptions this year.
Perhaps you were in a good groove of going to the gym, but you’re having a hard time finding your way back. Or maybe you’re itching to return, but you’re just plain confused — is it safer to stay hunkered down at home, or to get back into your fitness routine? And what’s the deal with working out in masks?!
The bottom line is, because we’re fighting a virus that doesn’t have yet a treatment, a strong immune system is your best defense. Exercise, which is known to boost your immunity, is more important now than ever before. When it comes to staying healthy, moving your body is just as essential as frequent hand washing and social distancing.
How Exercises Strengthens Immunity
More than 40% of U.S. adults are obese and more than 60% have at least one chronic disease, which we now know spikes the risk of COVID-19’s worst outcomes. And while most weight loss occurs due to decreased caloric intake, the CDC confirms that the only way to maintain weight loss and reduce your risk of a number of chronic diseases is through regular physical activity.
So while being physically fit doesn’t make you exempt from the virus by any means, it does make you more resilient to its symptoms, while also keeping you in good shape mentally and emotionally.
In short, working out is about much more than just looking good (though we must admit it’s a pretty nice side bonus!). Here’s a few more reasons why exercise is especially beneficial in the age of COVID-19.
Stress is in the air…and sabotaging your immune system.
Stress doesn’t just wreak havoc on your mood: It also has an insidious short-term and long-term effect on your immune system. Because it triggers your body to pump out excess levels of cortisol in your blood, inflammation can occur over time. Research continues to uncover the damaging effects of inflammation on your health, with heart disease being one of the most well-known.
Another hazard is that stress lowers your lymphocytes, the white blood cells that fight off infection, which means you’re that much more vulnerable to viruses when your levels take a dip.
So, since your immune system has a tougher time fighting infections in a chronically inflamed state, kicking up your activity level helps your immune cells perform at their best. Exercise also strengthens antibodies and increases blood flow so your immune cells can circulate at a higher rate. Plus, working out releases endorphins so that both your body and mind feel better (it’s all connected!).
Exercise increases your energy levels.
Between the constant onslaught of bad news and psychological strain of the pandemic, it’s no wonder most of us are feeling more fatigued than usual. Plus, with a lot of our favorite activities in an indefinite limbo, it’s mighty tempting to binge watch Netflix with a massive pile of snacks every night.
The interesting thing about exercise is that it actually gives you more energy, even though you’d expect the opposite to happen. Our bodies were made to move! Research even shows that regular physical activity is better at upping energy than stimulant medications and can provide that hard-to-find boost you’re looking for.
The key word here is ‘regular.’ Whether for an immune boost or greater energy, the results are best when you stay consistent — and they’re pretty dang impressive. One study even found that those who did aerobic exercise five or more days of the week lowered the number of upper respiratory tract infections (which can now be caused by COVID-19) by more than 40% over a 12-week period.
Ready to Get Moving?
CA’s fitness clubs are ready for you! Plus, new members receive two free personal training sessions as a special welcome. With the help of our pros, you can end the year stronger than ever.