The most important preventative to illness is your immune system, and keeping it in top form is a priority for many people. Studies have shown that one of the best ways this can be done is through exercise. Here are some examples of which exercises work best and how they benefit your immune system.
The key to boosting your immune system is to focus on regular, moderate exercise such as a daily 30-minute walk. This increases the amount of leukocytes, an immune system cell that fights colds and infections. You should avoid prolonged high-intensity workouts which increase the amount of adrenaline and cortisol in your body. These stress hormones depress the immune system function and can leave you more susceptible to illness for 3 days after your workout. Remember to pace yourself and that too much too quickly can have a negative effect.
Yoga and Tai Chi
Yoga and Tai Chi are both workouts that focus on the mind and the body, which is ideal for keeping your immune system in top form. The lymphatic system is made up of glands, such as our tonsils, spleen and the glands found in our armpits. These filter and destroy foreign contaminants, produce antibodies and create more lymphatic cells. In order for this system to be in top form it needs to keep moving. Studies have shown that the key to producing the fastest lymph movement is deep breathing. Exercises such as yoga and tai chi use meditation and deep breathing to help center the mind and body. This also reduces stress, which is essential to a healthy immune system.
Strength training is another exercise really important for boosting your immune system. By building muscle, glutamine will be produced and this in turn leads to a stronger immune system. Glutamine is an amino acid that many cells in our immune system thrive off. Our muscles also store protein, which is a compound made up of amino acids that aids the body in producing antibodies and white blood cells to help combat sickness. So, incorporating strength training exercises such as squats, bicep curls and chest press using weights will develop a strong and healthy body by building muscles and make it difficult for disease and illness to survive.
Aerobic exercises are beneficial for your heart and help to maintain a healthy weight. This decreases your risk for diabetes, cancer and heart disease. When the number of fat cells in the body is lower, the amount of pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body decreases and this reduces tissue damage and the risk of infection. Aerobic exercise also increases your body temperature which helps to kill infections in the body. For seniors or anyone with joint pain, water aerobics is an excellent alternative workout. It is low impact, but still provides a great aerobic workout.
No matter how you choose to exercise, remember that moderate level daily exercise is the best. As long as you are up and moving your immune system will benefit.