Nov 28, 2022 | Faces of HDGH, Road to Recovery – Restorative Rehabilitative Care
Physical activity has been long-touted as a pillar of healthy living. Exercise can help regulate factors such as weight loss, glucose control and blood pressure. It can improve cardiovascular conditioning and increase bone density, but did you know it can also have a meaningful and positive impact on your immune system? As we approach another cold and flu season, here are a few ways daily movement can help keep you healthy.
Exercising at a moderate to vigorous intensity for 30-45mins promotes the circulation of blood and white blood cells. This increase in circulation moves white blood cells into more areas of the body where infection can be identified. This rise in white blood cells can remain in effect for up to three hours after exercise is complete.
Research shows that even a modest amount of sleep loss is shown to increase the risk of infection and inflammatory markers. Regular physical activity promotes the release of endorphins, or “feel good” hormones. This can help lower overall stress levels, allowing you better quality nighttime rest.
There is research to show that regular exercise can help improve cholesterol levels, maintain normal blood pressure, lower blood glucose levels and lower your resting heart rate. Having one or more of these chronic illnesses can make it more difficult for your immune system to fight off viral infections such as influenza or COVID-19.
Research suggests that chronic stress and depression can have a dramatic impact on the immune system. It creates an environment of low chronic inflammation that favors illness and infection. Exercise can slow the release of cortisol and other stress hormones and promote the release of endorphins, positively affecting mood, behavior and resilience to everyday stressors.
It is important to note that both exercise intensity and exercise duration can affect the impact exercise has on the immune response. Most research suggests that regular, moderate-intensity, sustained activity lasting 30-60mins has the most beneficial effect. Activities like a brisk walk after dinner, or a lunchtime bike ride can fulfill this requirement quite easily.
As always, some exercise is better than none. If you aren’t sure where to start, or if exercise is new to you, speak with your doctor. Small sessions accumulated through the day can add up and make a big impact, so start where you are and progress from there.
Jasmine is a Windsor girl, born and raised. She has been a registered kinesiologist since 2014 and an exercise specialist for the Cardiac Wellness Center since 2007. She has the good fortune of helping cardiac patients regain their confidence and independence after life-altering events. When not working, you can find her at the local hockey rinks, soccer fields or camp grounds, promoting an active lifestyle with her husband and three children.
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