Regular Exercise Has Long-term Benefits on Immunity
Exercise is probably not the first thing you think of when you want to protect yourself from COVID-19. But because exercise benefits our immune system and stress response, it is a recommended tactic.
Here are some reasons why:
- With infections, specifically in the lungs, the immune system becomes inflamed while trying to fight the virus. This inflammation can damage the lungs. Regular exercise will strengthen the processes that react and fight infection and decrease inflammation.
- Regular exercise is key for preventing and treating many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, some cancers and others. We know that those with chronic conditions have an increased risk of worse illness and death. Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of becoming infected and the severity if you do become infected.
- Viruses such as COVID-19 bring not only illness, but the extra stresses of isolation, not seeing loved ones or financial issues. Our bodies respond positively to regular exercise with both physical and emotional benefits. Exercise has been shown to reduce the risk and symptoms of depression and anxiety, lift mood, help improve sleep, and reduce anger and hostility. If you add in the extra benefit of activity such as walking outside or gardening that encourage can mindfulness and a sense of accomplishment, then your stress response will be greatly reduced.
It's still very important to follow all the guidelines given, such as physical distancing and hand washing, but regular exercise will be a key ally during these uncertain times, too.