Keeping up with regular exercise is an important way of keeping your immune system healthy, even when stuck at home, according to a study conducted by the University of Bath.
Keeping up with regular exercise is an important way of keeping your immune system healthy, even when stuck at home, according to a study conducted by the University of Bath.1
According to the study, there is a general consensus that regular bouts of short-lasting moderate intensity exercise is beneficial for host immune defense, particularly in older adults and people with chronic diseases.2
In contrast, infection burden is reported to be high among high performance athletes and is second only to injury for the number of training days lost during preparation for major sporting events. This has led to conjecture that strenuous exercise can suppress immunity and increase infection risk, independently of the many other factors experienced by these populations; however, this belief has recently been challenged, according to the study. 2
The objective of the study was to solicit opposing arguments centered around whether exercise affects immune function to increase susceptibility to infection. Issues that were investigated included:
A key point of agreement between the study groups included that infection susceptibility has a multifactorial underpinning. However, an issue that remains from the study was whether exercise is a causative factor of increased infection risk in athletes.2
Leading physiologists James Turner, MD, and John Campbell, MD, concluded that infections are more likely to be linked to an inadequate diet, psychological stress, insufficient sleep, travel, and pathogen exposure at social gathering events.
“Our work has concluded that there is very limited evidence for exercise directly increasing the risk of becoming infected with viruses,” Turner said in a press release. “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.”