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How does fitness boost your immune system?

Fitness is often seen as something that we take part in to improve our physical body and/or our mental health, but it is also a key component to boosting your immune system. A recent study by Pedersen looked at how exercise was similar to the stress that your body goes through when it is fighting infection or recovering from injury – at these stages, the body goes into a hyper mode or super charged turbo function if you wish, to repair and boost immunity and slow down the ageing process. They argued that the effect of exercise produced a super immune response and that exercise could be seen as a positive driver for protecting our bodies from viral and bacterial infection, as well as helping to protect us from some of the diseases and illnesses that we are more likely to come across as we age.

It was interesting to see that both endurance and resistance training can produce a positive effect on the cells within our body - so whether you walk, run, jog, do sport, dance, Pilates etc or lift weights, and do core work, then all of this type of activity has that positive side effect. And this can happen at any age, which is great news if you are slightly older and might think that exercise is past you….and Kohut found that active people over the age of 65 had a better immunity response to the flu vaccine than those who did not do any moderate exercise.

Campbell and Turner did a review of the literature surrounding exercise and immunity and found that regular exercise or even just been active each day enhanced immunity and delayed the “ageing” of our immune system – and again showed how there is this heightened response following exercise that protects our body.

This is all great news for us as we approach the winter months, and even more so with the increased anxiety surrounding the Covid situation.

So how can you go about boosting your own immunity? Science seems to recommend the following.

Regular activity is key – 3 times a week, moderate (get a little out of breath) exercise for around 15 – 20 minutes. But also being active in your everyday life is important – whether that is walking to the shop for the paper, parking your car further away from work, taking a lunchtime stroll, gardening etc.

Social situations around activity also enhance our immune system, so see if you can do your activity or exercise with a friend - a walk and a talk is good for the body and the mind - and it can boost your immune system too. The positive effect of friendship has been likened to the increased health seen by people who give us smoking! This is about a 50% reduction in overall mortality rate by making the effort to keep in touch with family and friends, giving hugs, eye contact and a genuine care in how they are - without exercise - but imaging the turbo effect if you did both at the same time. Life shows us amazing ways to keep health. Be inventive and expressive in what you do.

Making exercise a habit that is as regular as taking your medication will enhance your immune system and delay the onset of age-related diseases - and make you feel happier

Do not sit at home and wait. Be ready, be prepared, look after yourself. Keep going. Keep active xx

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