Exercise and Immune Function

The benefits of exercise extend past that of stronger muscles, increased bone density, and decreased risk of lifestyle-related disease. Exercise is also a wonderful way to improve your immune function and immune competency.

Your Immune System

Your immune system is a complex network of cells and proteins that defend your body against infection. The main parts of your immune system include white blood cells, antibodies, lymphatic system, spleen, thymus, and bone marrow. These are the parts of your immune system that actively fight infection. Once an infection has been fought, your body is able to better fight it off, if it returns.

Antibodies help your body fight toxins and infections. An antigen is a toxin or foreign substance that induces an immune response from your body.

Your body also uses your skin, lungs, and digestive tract to reduce the risk of infection.

Fever is a response from your immune system to help fight off an infection. Normal body temperature is between 36 and 37 degrees Celcius. A rise in body temperature to 38 degrees Celcius, or higher, is usually considered a fever. Increased body temperature helps create a less favourable environment for the infection. Fever also triggers the body’s repair process. Sometimes, it may be necessary for you to medically treat your fever. However, it is usually a sign that your immune system is working to make you better.

The Role of Exercise

A physically active lifestyle helps decrease your risk of contracting a range of communicable diseases, including viral and bacterial infections. Previous research concluded that a single bout of exercise had an immunosuppressant effect on the system. That research can now be shown to not be accurate. What was previously understood to be a decrease in immune cells in the system, was actually an increase in ‘surveillance’. This means a redistribution of immune cells to peripheral tissues (muscles). This is a good way for the body to respond quickly if the activity caused you harm.

Exercise temporarily increases body temperature, further helping the body fight off any antigens or infections. Regular physical activity can also help the body regulate the release of stress hormones. These may be elevated or decreased, depending on your current situation.

In summary, appropriate exercise on a regular basis is beneficial in improving the effectiveness of your immune system. It works by making your system more efficient.

If you are currently unwell, please seek health advice prior to starting (or continuing) an exercise program. In certain situations, it may be best to rest, or at least take it easy, for a little while.

Physical Activity Options

If you are unable to come into the clinic, you still have options to maintain or increase your activity levels. Walking is a wonderful way to exercise and being outside can also boost your immune function. Even if you are unable to leave your house, you have options. We have introduced a new Telehealth appointment type so that we can remotely support and communicate with our clients. PhysiApp is an application that allows us to conduct video calls, set up and track an exercise program and progress you as necessary. It will allow us to continue to support you in your health journey. Furthermore, you can maintain the progress you have worked hard to achieve. Book online or contact us to arrange your Telehealth appointment.

Help You Need When You Need It

Our patient-centred and holistic approach to Physiotherapy means we have a strong connection with our patients, and individually tailor treatment programs to deliver the best outcomes throughout your recovery process.