Exercise, Immunity, and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Four crucial ways to fight germs (and boost your immune response) during the coronavirus outbreak.
The immune system is a biological structure that responds to disease by identifying and killing pathogens and tumor cells. It detects a variety of agents and distinguishes them from the body's own cells and tissues in order to function properly. This system is a truly remarkable line of defense that naturally occurs within all of us to protect the human body.
Exercise is proven to have a deep impact on the functioning of the immune system. Yes, exercise stimulates the immune response and can indeed have a positive effect on our ability to stay safe.
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised some questions about how exercise can protect us by boosting our immune response. With the lack of access to gyms - and to some degree, public parks - the issue has become more urgent than ever before. The negative impact that social isolation has on the immune system is also crucial to consider. Cortisol levels, for example, are elevated during such times, and can inhibit critical functions of the immune system. How do we proceed?
When we are stressed, the ability of our T-cells to multiply in response to infectious agents, is markedly reduced; as is the ability of certain effector lymphocytes (e.g., NK-cells and CD8+ T-cells) to recognize and kill cells, in our body, that have become cancerous or have been infected with viruses. It is also vitally important that our immune cells maintain their ability to redeploy, so that they may ‘patrol’ vulnerable areas in our body (i.e., the upper respiratory tract and the lungs) to prevent viruses and other pathogens from gaining a foothold.
This process is also important to minimize the impact of the virus and to expedite viral resolution should we become infected.
Each bout of exercise, particularly whole-body dynamic cardiorespiratory exercise, instantaneously mobilizes literally billions of immune cells, especially those cell types that are capable of carrying out effector functions such as the recognition and killing of virus-infected cells. The mobilized cells firstly enter the blood compartment from marginated vascular pools, the spleen and the bone marrow before trafficking to secondary lymphoid organs and tissues, particular to the lungs and the gut where increased immune defense may be required. The immune cells that are mobilized with exercise are primed and ‘looking for a fight.’ Their frequent re-circulation between the blood and tissues functions to increase host immune surveillance, which, in theory, makes us more resistant to infection and better equipped to deal with any infectious agent that has gained a foothold.
- American College of Sports Medicine
With all the knowledge out there of how stress, exercise, and your immune system are all affected and intertwined, there are some things you can do to keep yourself in good health.
Four Ways to Boost Your Immune System Today:
Whole-body dynamic movements helps manage weight, strengthens bones, and builds muscles to help support a healthy immune system.
A diet low in fat and high in fiber that includes plenty of fresh fruits and veggies is healthiest.
Getting Some Sun
Sunlight aides your body to manufacture vitamin D, which is essential for your immune system.
Getting a Good Night's Sleep
Sleep helps your immune system to keep functioning strong and eliminate viral infection.
Let us know your experience with exercise and wellness during the pandemic. We would love to help you create a regiment that works for you.
Meet the Author
Certified by the American College of Sports Medicine, Certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and Certified by National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association
As a Medical Exercise Specialist, Gardy designs exercise programming for the clients with medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, lower back disorders, joint replacements, stroke patients.
As a personal trainer, his favorite aspect is working one-on-one with clients using functional tools such as Stability and Medicine balls, and tubings.
He believes that this way of training is critical and essential for helping his clients to ”move the way they were meant to move.” Gardy is also a big believer that continuing education a must for the fitness professional.
“The fitness industry is always revolving, so it is essential that as a fitness professional, I keep abreast of the latest trends in health and exercise science.”
If you'd like to train with Gardy, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org!