immune system

Exercise and The Immune System

Exercise and The Immune System

Exercise and Your Immune System

Most people are aware that exercise will make you healthier but not so many are aware how it can affect the immune system in a positive way. And in this regard, I don’t mean one has to work out 2-3 hours a day or be a triathlete or some such.

You just need to get up your heart rate and circulation for a period of time each day – and not necessarily every day – but you need to be consistent. From what I’ve read and experienced over the years, a minimum of 20 minutes a day usually is adequate.

An article in the Journal of Sport and Health talks about how to increase the effectiveness of your immune cells.

“In addition to improving your mental health, a 2019 scientific review in the Journal of Sport and Health Science found that exercise can improve your immune response, lower illness risk, and reduce inflammation.”

“Because exercise increases blood and lymph flow as your muscles contract, it also increases the circulation of immune cells, making them roam the body at a higher rate and at higher numbers”

This is really significant: Per the British Journal of Sports Medicine in an paper published September 07, 2011 – they found that those partaking in the study, that exercised five days a week or more, had a 40% reduction in respiratory tract infections such as the common cold.*(see note at end of article)

The study of the subjects was over a 12 week period.

“Conclusions Perceived physical fitness and frequency of aerobic exercise are important correlates of reduced days with URTI [Upper respiratory tract infection] and severity of symptoms during the winter and fall common cold seasons.”

And this from Science Direct’s article showing relationship between exercise and body’s defense/immune system:

“The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system:
– Acute exercise is an immune system adjuvant that improves defense activity and metabolic health.
- Data support a clear inverse relationship between moderate exercise training and illness risk.
– Exercise training has an anti-inflammatory influence mediated through multiple pathways.
– Illness risk is increased in athletes during periods of intensified training and competition.
– Increased carbohydrate and polyphenol intake is an effective nutritional strategy for immune support.
– Habitual exercise improves immune regulation, delaying the onset of age-related dysfunction.
Advances in mass spectrometry technology will provide new insights on exercise–immune responses.”


From US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health:

Per the US National Library of Medicine, exercise or some sort of regular physical activity, can help clear up or stave off anything from inflammation (inflamed joints, etc) to colds to cancer.

“Epidemiological evidence indicates that regular physical activity and/or frequent structured exercise reduces the incidence of many chronic diseases in older age, including communicable diseases such as viral and bacterial infections, as well as non-communicable diseases such as cancer and chronic inflammatory disorders. “

“(iii) exercise can enhance in vivo immune responses to bacterial, viral, and other antigens. In addition, we present evidence showing that regular physical activity and frequent exercise might limit or delay immunological aging. We conclude that leading an active lifestyle is likely to be beneficial, rather than detrimental, to immune function, which may have implications for health and disease in older age.”

From everything I’ve read and studied, one doesn’t have to over extend oneself. You want to get your heart rate up for a little bit for a while. If you are totally comfortable walking 3-4 miles an hour (a mile every 15-20 minutes) then see if you can push yourself every so slightly to go half a mile faster. Just get your heart and lungs and muscles working just a touch harder. You don’t have to get winded, particularly starting out. If you haven’t exercised in a while, just get out and do something every day. If you have to start with doing 10-20 minutes of walking once a day, start with that. The important things are not doing too much, or over exerting when you start and also, persistence. Notice that in one of the articles above, it was a 12 week study where there was a reduction by 40% in lung and other issues. So don’t quit after 2-3 weeks! Make it part of your lifestyle.

Some ideas if you haven’t exercised in a while:

  • Park the car at the grocery store a little further every time you go, so you have to walk. Much easier to find a spot that way as well.
  • Once you have some wind, take one flight of stairs instead of the elevator.
  • When you walk in the park or neighbourhood, take a camera (even your phone camera will work) and take a photo or two. That way you are making it more interesting.
  • I like to look around when I’m out for a walk but for some it could be a good time to listen to that audio book.
  • Walking or some other sort of exercise, cycling, tennis can be a good time to spend with your spouse.
  • Some like to go on their own but you may do better joining up with a group or a friend. Sometimes it is ‘easier’ once you have committed the time with a friend.
  • Walk to the store instead of driving.

There are likely a hundred other ways to get started. But the simplicity of getting outside every day for even 20-30 minutes can be unbelievably beneficial.

*This point regarding “40% reduction in respiratory tract infections such as the common cold.” is particularly important now with the fact that somewhat over 93% of the deaths from Covid-19 are with a comorbidity, largely being respiratory tract infections.

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Boost Your Immune System

Boost Your Immune System

Immune System

How to boost your immune system *

8 Ways to Boost Your Immune System

  1. Stress.

This is one of the biggest.  Mental stress, physical stress both can make a person more susceptible to or more prone to illness. Get enough rest.  Get some exercise.  Stop watching the news. If you absolutely have to watch or listen to or read the news, then limit yourself.  A constant barrage day after day from the media can make the best of us weep and be weary and think the worst of the world.  Turn off the news.

2. Sunlight and vitamin D.

Vitamin D helps build one’s immune system.  Some say that it acts more like a hormone in the way it handles the body and helps fortify it against various forms of disease. 

If you want the really technical stuff and can wade through a white paper you can read this article at The US Library of Medicine/National Institute of Health: Vitamin D and the Immune system 

If you want something a little more understandable check out this video on this page or read the article on Dr. Mercola’s website.  (Please note this may touch a nerve with some regarding vaccines. I’m not taking a stand either way on the subject of vaccines; I only am including this article link on the page to show the effectiveness of this Vitamin.)

“Dr. Joe Prendergast explains that vitamin D is likely more powerful than any vaccine you could take, as German researchers have found it increases your immune system by a factor of 3 to 5.”

And who doesn’t feel better when they get some sunshine!  Many parts of the world and in winter, no one is going to get enough sunlight.  And many people work inside at the important parts of the day.  I, personally, swear by Vitamin D.  I used to get sick every winter, feel down, with the ‘blahs’.  Years ago I started taking huge amounts of Vitamin D daily throughout the winter months and have not been sick at all since.  I no longer get ‘down’ or depressed during the short winter days and long winter nights.  Please though, check with your doctor so that you know you are taking enough but not too much. 

3. Exercise

There is a great article at on exercise and stress. 

“Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.”

Lower your stress levels by exercising and you automatically boost your immune system. Something as simple as going for a walk.  Going for a walk or some sort of outdoor activity helps both physically and mentally.  First of all, it gets the blood flowing and muscles working the way they should and also gets a person’s attention outward.  And this is paramount.  Doing this activity while listening to the news or checking out Facebook kind of defeats the purpose.  Look around while you are walking, running, hiking or biking

4. Limit drugs, alcohol, tobacco.

This is pretty common knowledge; drugs, alcohol and tobacco use up nutrients in your body. Alcohol uses up B vitamins.  Marijuana uses up minerals such as magnesium (which is a calming mineral). Tobacco uses up Vitamins C.  They all use up certain amounts of B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium.  B vitamins are huge anti stress nutrients. Drugs and alcohol also affect the liver and stomach preventing proper metabolism of foods, so even if you are eating reasonably well, you may not be getting the proper nutrition into the cells.

From Journey Pure - a drug rehab organization

“It’s no secret that drug and alcohol addictions are also difficult on your body. However, what you may not realize is that addictions deplete essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function properly.”

5. Eat more healthy foods:  yogurt, vegetables.

Keep a balanced diet. Make sure that you are getting enough proteins. Lots of micronutrients in fruits and vegetables.  Yogurt: plain yogurt, without flavours or sugar added should be the best.  Sugars feed bad bacteria so if you are eating yogurt with sugar, and most flavored yogurt with have this, you are kind of neutralizing the effects of the bacteria cultures in the yogurt.  Add some honey if you want a bit of sweetness. 

Honey is also great because it will help kill off any bad bacteria internally. 

And remember, fatty foods don’t make you fat.  Good fats will fill you up and you won’t crave so much sugar and carbohydrates. Again, a balanced diet, with enough protein, carbs and fats. 

6. Vitamins. B vitamins are considered the stress vitamins.

Take your vitamins.  The trickiest thing with vitamins is getting the right balance for you.  Adele Davis talks about this in her books.  One can create deficiencies by taking too much of certain vitamins.  If they are not balanced properly.  There are some pretty knowledgeable people at your health food stores.  Some multi vitamins have every B vitamin at the same volume, 50 mg.  This may not be the best for you.  One can buy multi vitamins and multi B vitamins that are not 50mg of everything.  Ask at your health food store for something more appropriate.

Here is a good article that explains a bit more of what I’m talking about if you are interested: Dr Weil - B Vitamins.

7. Sugar and Processed Food

As much as possible stay away from sugars and processed food.  These are taking nutrients from the body instead of adding nutrients, causing more physical stress and predisposing one to more illness.

“Stress, sugars, and processed foods are a few of the other sources of strain on your body. Once you put all these together it is all your body's resources can do just to keep up. It is harder and harder to stay healthy.”

As I mentioned earlier, good fats will fill you up so that your cravings for sugar and carbs will be a lot less. 

8. A few other things:

There are other things you can take to help support your immune system, things like garlic, various herbs, and mushrooms have a bazillion different micronutrients that are good for you.

* The above suggestions are just that, suggestions.  From my personal observations and experiences.  Although I have have added some decent references where I have been able to.

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