Training & Your Immune System

We’ve all heard it before “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” We know now that there is more to it than that, just as we are still learning that the affect’s fitness has on our bodies, namely in this article your immune system.
I thought this appropriate since we are heading straight into the dead of cold and flu season. In my previous post, I spoke on how to Prime your immune system ahead of time so you have the best chance when you do run into such viruses. Now I want to discuss what effects regular fitness has on it as well.
   I do use the word “fitness” like I’m attempting to be general but let’s be honest, I mean working out or for the more enthusiastic amongst us, Training. For the record, although I don’t compete, I prefer “training” as well.

   If you don’t exercise, the benefits might seem obvious…a better lifestyle, better diet and weight/fat loss and of course my system is going to operate better…..but what if you already a pretty active person? Take me for example, I haven’t logged less than 15k steps at work in more than 10 years, but I continuously get sacked by sickness each season. Mind you I work in direct contact with the public so it’s pretty easy.

   The short of it is, well…there isn’t a short (insert sad emoji)

There are two main complications with this subject:
1) It’s widely known that regular exercise does have a benefit to boosting your immune system.
2) Research is…well…not quite sure how.

There are several theories. However, none of these theories have been proven. Some of these theories are:

Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.

Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells (WBC). WBCs are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease. These antibodies or WBCs circulate more rapidly, so they could detect illnesses earlier than they might have before. However, no one knows whether these changes help prevent infections.

The brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection better. (This is similar to what happens when you have a fever.)

Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones. Some stress increases the chance of illness. Lower stress hormones may protect against illness.
More on that study Here.

It is said that when you train, you create an inflammatory response, especially with resistance training, which leads to muscle growth and while your body is attempting to repair that damage, it is more susceptible to invasion.
   An article in Science Daily titled “Research debunks ‘myth‘ that strenuous exercise suppresses the immune system” basically says that the immune suppressing response is a myth. Mind you this was done on endurance athletes.

That moment…

So what’s a person to think? Well, for one thing, if your sick don’t get your snot on the gym equipment, that’s gross. Secondly, although its debatable on the overall intensity of the response, what isn’t a debate is that one happens.

The obvious is that you prevent some serious problems by performing regular exercises:
• Heart disease
• lower cholesterol
• increased bone density (resistance training)
• improved lung function
Side note — You ever see those people riding a bike and smoking? Yeah. Their not doing it right.

So we know it helps…how much is or just how is still under research. So let’s say you are sick and are just not feeling it. I’m going out on a limb and just say a dead lift PR is not happening…but that doesn’t mean your routine is scrapped.
Try focusing on what can benefit you when you do get back up and running. My favorite is Mobility Training or straight up Flexibility work. This can be done just sitting in a room, on the lawn, your bed…wherever.

Wrap it up!
• Workout Regularly to increase immune system.
• listen to your body.
Keep it simple. The general rule of the gym jungle is “if its from the neck up, go for it. Chest down, take some time off.” I think this is pretty good advice. If you are just not feeling it, don’t push it. Loss of gains, strength or inches is so minimal that it’s not worth it.

*As always, It’s important to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise routine. He or she might have advice on what exercises are safe and any precautions you might need to take while exercising.

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