Exercise and Illness
Can exercise keep you from getting the flu or a cold? What if you are already sick? Should you push yourself to exercise anyway?
Moderate exercise has been shown to boost immunity. One study indicated that those who walked at 70-75% of their maximum heart rate every day had half as many sick days as those who did not. You do need to be careful of high intensity exercise that is longer than 90 minutes, because that can actually reduce your immunity temporarily.
Regular, moderate exercise releases a level of stress hormones that helps reduce inflammation in the respiratory system, which in turn activates an immune response.
Repeating exercise on a daily basis adds to this cumulative immune-enhancing effect. Other current studies indicate that regular exercise might limit or delay aging of the immune system.
There are times you should not exercise or at least check with your doctor before exercising; these include:
- When you have a fever
- When you have increased chest congestion
- When you are wheezing or have excessive shortness of breath
- When you have chest tightness or pressure
- When you are light headed, dizzy or having balance difficulty
Regular exercise not only helps as an immune booster, but aids in stress reduction, weight loss/maintenance, better sleep and other health risk factors. Exercise IS medicine!