Most people focus on taking their vitamins or consuming antioxidants to strengthen their immune system, but you can chalk immune strength benefits up as yet another reason that regular cardiovascular exercise is essential. Doing regular and consistent exercise can help reduce stress, increase immune boosting cells in the body, and supercharge the speed that those immune cells circulate through the body. Even though studies show that the immune system levels out to normal a few hours after the workout ends, daily exercise helps to maintain that consistency in the blood stream. However, as little as 20-30 minutes of exercise each day can boost your immune response.
There are so many studies out there to prove that stress can cause illness, that it is essential common knowledge. One of the most extreme benefits of exercise isn't only the killer body that comes with it, but the stress reduction and mood boosting that you get as well. Powering out an hour or so at the gym, running, swimming or doing yoga, erases stress and can change your mood by the time you finish your warm up. Try adding boxing or kickboxing, for extra stress reducing power, and fight anger, frustration and crabbiness due to PMS, family stress or the occasional annoying coworker.
You may have noticed that your gym-rat friends, despite laying all over the equipment that has been touched by hundreds of other gym-goers each day, seem to suffer from fewer colds and flu viruses, or recover extra-quick. The main job of blood is to bring nutrients to the body's tissues, and to take the waste out of the tissues and organs, so increased blood flow does that at a more efficient rate.
In addition to the amplified blood flow, there are certain white blood cells, called macrophages, that attack bacteria in the body and help reduce colds, flu, and other minor infections and illnesses. When you exercise, macrophage production is put on turbo, and more bacteria is killed. On top of all that, the increase in oxygen in the bloodstream, due to exercise, provides the benefits that antioxidants do in the body. The most beneficial exercises, then are "with oxygen", or aerobic exercise.
During a workout, your blood gets pumping faster through the body, and those macrophages fly through the bloodstream, attacking bacteria at a more rapid rate. With this speed, they get through more bacteria than they would in a normal day.
More than even nutrition can, exercise will aid in immune system function and keep you away from the doctor. Couple that with a healthy diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants, and you are on your way to staying illness free this cold and flu season!