Exercise helps decrease your chances of developing heart disease. It also keeps your bones healthy and strong.
We do not know exactly if or how exercise increases your immunity to certain illnesses. 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.
An antibody is a protein produced by the body's immune system when it detects harmful substances, called antigens. Examples of antigens include micr...
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.
Exercise is good for you, but, you should not overdo it. People who already exercise should not exercise more just to increase their immunity. Heavy, long-term exercise (such as marathon running and intense gym training) could actually cause harm.
Studies have shown that people who follow a moderately energetic lifestyle, benefit most from starting (and sticking to) an exercise program. A moderate program can consist of:
Bicycling with your children a few times a week
Taking daily 20 to 30 minute walks
Going to the gym every other day
Playing golf regularly
Exercise makes you feel healthier and more energetic. It can help you feel better about yourself. So go ahead, take that aerobics class or go for that walk. You will feel better and healthier for it.
There is no strong evidence to prove that taking immune supplements along with exercising lowers the chance of illness or infections.
Fitness Facts and Fiction
Which of the following is a benefit of regular exercise?
How much daily exercise do children need?
Kids are more likely to exercise if their parents are active too.
Regular exercise is good for your bones.
Exercise can help you fight infections by:
Weight or strength training can build muscle and improve strength at any age.
This is an important part of an exercise program:
Some exercises can make you less likely to fall.
Which of the following can help prevent sports injuries?
Some people just don’t have time to be physically active.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.