More often than we think, our limits are self-imposed. Perseverance and passion for long-term goals are an important predictors of success. To a surprising degree, hard work — not IQ or talent — determines the results.
Time is not an excuse anymore.
The immune system is very responsive to exercise, with the extent and duration reflecting the degree of physiological stress imposed by the workload.
In 1989, the International Society of Exercise Immunology was founded, leading to biannual conferences and the highly successful Exercise Immunology Review journal.
During moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise bouts of less than 60 min duration, the ant pathogen activity of tissue macrophages occurs in parallel with an enhanced recirculation of immunoglobulins, anti-inflammatory cytokines, neutrophils, NK cells, cytotoxic T cells, and immature B cells, all of which play critical roles in immune defence activity and metabolic health.
In general, acute exercise is now viewed as an important immune system adjuvant to stimulate the ongoing exchange of leukocytes between the circulation and tissues.
The measurement of immune responses to prolonged and intensive exercise by athletes continues to receive high attention. Taken together, the best evidence supports that high exercise training workloads, competition events, and the associated physiological, metabolic, and psychological stress are linked to immune dysfunction, inflammation, oxidative stress, and muscle damage.
Over the last four decades, many studies have investigated how exercise affects the immune system. It is widely agreed that regular moderate intensity exercise is beneficial for immunity, but a view held by some is that more arduous exercise can suppress immune function, leading to an ‘open-window’ of heightened infection risk in the hours and days following exercise.
In a new article, published this month, leading experts, including Dr Turner and Dr Campbell, debated whether the immune system can change in a negative or positive way after exercise, and whether or not athletes get more infections than the general population. The article concludes that infections are more likely to be linked to inadequate diet, psychological stress, insufficient sleep, travel and importantly, pathogen exposure at social gathering events like marathons — rather than the act of exercising itself.
Author Dr James Turner from the Department for Health at the University of Bath explains: “Our work has concluded that there is very limited evidence for exercise directly increasing the risk of becoming infected with viruses. In the context of coronavirus and the conditions we find ourselves in today, the most important consideration is reducing your exposure from other people who may be carrying the virus. But people should not overlook the importance of staying fit, active and healthy during this period. Provided it is carried out in isolation — away from others — then regular, daily exercise will help better maintain the way the immune system works — not suppress it.”
Co-author, Dr John Campbell added: “People should not fear that their immune system will be suppressed by exercise placing them at increased risk of Coronavirus. Provided exercise is carried out according to latest government guidance on social distancing, regular exercise will have a tremendously positive effect on our health and wellbeing, both today and for the future.”
At this current time in particular, the researchers underline the importance of maintaining good personal hygiene when exercising, including thoroughly washing hands following exercise. To give the body its best chance at fighting off infections, they suggest in addition to doing regular exercise, people need to pay attention to the amount of sleep they get and maintain a healthy diet, that is energy balanced to account for energy that is used during exercise. They hope that this debate article will lead to a wave of new research exploring the beneficial effects of exercise on immune function.