Exercise is Medicine

We have spent the last 2 years under a great deal of stress, isolation, and just general feelings of anxiety trying to navigate the pandemic. As we are making our way out of the pandemic and back to some type of normal, how can we use exercise to continue to maintain not only physical health and fitness but also our immune health?

In this blog we’ll explain how exercise helps your immune system and give you a few strategies for adding exercise into your life. Simply put, your immune system is your defense mechanism against disease and helps you fight off foreign invaders…think viruses, bacteria, cancer, etc.

How Exercise Boosts Your Immune System

Research has shown for years that many of the major comorbidities (heart diseases, obesity, lung disease, and diabetes) can be minimized, improved, managed, or avoided all together with regular exercise. Cardiovascular exercise is especially effective for avoiding these comorbidities and boosting your immune system.

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends you perform 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise 5 days per week. Cardiovascular exercise (walking, running, jogging, hiking, swimming, biking, etc.) has been shown to improve the immune response to vaccinations, lower chronic inflammation, improve various cancers, reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, manage or avoid diabetes, and improve cognitive impairment.

Those same exercises increase the strength of your heart and lungs, thereby allowing them to function at optimal capacity fending off many diseases of the heart and lungs.

Cardiovascular exercise also helps the immune system by circulating our immune cells that are contained in our blood and lymphatic system.

Finally, stress hormones also lower the immune system and exercise has been proven to reduce stress and promote better mental health.

How to Add Exercise Into Your Life

Ok, so this exercise is medicine idea looks easy enough on paper (or on a computer screen), but how can we put it into action—always the toughest part of any undertaking? Let’s look at some ways to make the plan happen by asking yourself a few questions.

1. Are you a morning, afternoon, or night person? Whatever your answer that is probably the time of day that you should consider taking those 30 minutes to exercise!

2. Are you having a hard time finding 30 minutes? How much time are you spending checking out your social media or watching TV? I bet there is at least 30 minutes somewhere in there.

3. Do you do better exercising with other people or by yourself? Either way you probably need some type of accountability. If you are a by yourself exerciser (pretty sure I made that word up), then maybe an exercise app would work best for you. On the other hand if you need to put your money where your feet are then maybe sign up for a walking, running, or biking club or an exercise class. This is also a great way to socialize with friends you don’t see often and meet new people who are going through the same struggles, fighting the same fight. Finally, if you are not a solo exerciser and classes don’t do much for you, maybe find a friend or two that you can meet with regularly to exercise.

A Word of Caution

Keep in mind that just as exercise can increase immune function too much of a good thing can have the opposite effect. If you are constantly pushing your body and not resting, you can start to wear it down. So make sure that you are not over training, no matter how old/young you are.

We offer exercise accountability! Check out our Academy page to learn about our classes and personal training.

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