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Regular Exercise and Immunity

Updated: Mar 29, 2022

Here is a look at how regular exercise can benefit your immune system.

Exercise has long been known to have positive physical effects on people, but what about its immune­enhancing effects?

A growing body of research suggests that regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight and can positively impact the normal functioning of the immune system, overall health, and well­being. Here's how.

What is Exercise Immunology?

Exercise immunology is a relatively new scientific endeavor discipline that seeks to understand the acute and chronic effects of various exercise workloads on the immune system against pathogens. In recent years, this field of research has become increasingly important as more people adopt an active lifestyle and work out more frequently.

By studying how exercise influences the immune system, scientists can help us better understand how exercise can improve overall health and protect against infections.

The compelling connections between regular exercise and immunity

Influence of regular, moderate exercise on the immunological response.

By engaging in a physical activity that can get our heart rates up for a continuous amount of time, such as 30 minutes, our bodies sense it as a physiological stressor. As a result, certain types of specialized immune white cells start circulating at a higher than the standard rate in the bloodstream.

The increased concentration of white blood cells (like neutrophils and lymphocytes) makes it easier for pathogens to be detected and destroyed. However, this entire kickstart to the immune system does not last long. The specialized immune cells decline in our bloodstream and head to the other tissues in our bodies sometime after the workout.

This is why it is essential to exercise regularly if we want to benefit from working out.

Effect of a regular workout on quality and amount of sleep.

Regular physical activity has been linked with better sleep quantity and quality. There is growing scientific evidence that sleep has powerful effects on immune system functioning.

Research has shown that in participants restricting sleep time to four hours during one night, natural killer cell activity decreased to 72% compared to participants who had a whole night's sleep. The conclusion is straightforward ­ people who don't get enough sleep are at a higher risk for infection.

[2] For this reason, we should do everything to find time to exercise as it helps reduce the sleep onset (the time we need to fall asleep), improves sleep quality, and leads to stronger immune system responses.

Exercise to slow down the release of stress hormones.

Cortisol is the primary stress hormone produced by adrenal glands at the top of our kidneys that works in certain parts of our brain and is responsible for controlling our mood, motivation, and fear.

[3] As it plays an essential role in our bodies, it is vital to maintain an optimal cortisol level. The findings of different studies point out that high­stress levels significantly impact human well­being mainly through impairing the regular function of the immune system and building a low­chronic inflammation status that favours the occurrence of infections, metabolic diseases, and even cancer.

[4] Regular, moderate physical activity is an effective way to manage stress and maintain healthy cortisol levels. When we exercise, the body's ability to use oxygen and blood flow improves. Our brain increases the production of "feel­good" neurotransmitters ­ endorphins that take our minds off the worries.


The bottom line

Exercise and immunity go hand-­in-­hand.

Regular physical activity should be an integral part of maintaining overall health. Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly have stronger immune systems, which is likely due to increased production of white blood cells, better quality and amount of sleep, and optimal cortisol levels. Therefore, it's crucial to make physical activity a regular part of your daily routine.

If you live in the West London Area and lack regular exercise in your wellness plan, get in touch with The Box London ­ your local fitness and boxing studio that makes people feel empowered within themselves and their capabilities. Let's see how we can help make healthy changes to your lifestyle by incorporating regular activity into your day.

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