In these times of concern around the coronavirus, it’s more important than ever to be aware of the many benefits of moderate intensity activity for your immune system.
What is well-known and widely accepted is that moderate intensity exercise improves both the short- and long-term function of your immune system, so you’re better equipped to fight off viruses and bacteria.
Working out is good for you in this current climate.
What are the benefits of moderate intensity exercise?
In the short term, moderate intensity exercise – like jogging – increases your heart rate and circulation, which improves the flow of illness-fighting white blood cells around the body. With these flowing freely through your bloodstream, any potential infections are identified and fought more rapidly than in a sedentary person.
Long-term improvements in the function of your immune system are also a result of regular moderate intensity activity. This happens through the lowering levels of inflammation throughout the body, which increases the effectiveness of the white blood cells when infection is present.
People who prioritise training often have other positive lifestyle behaviours – like limiting their alcohol intake or getting enough sleep – which promote the function of their immune system. They also typically have lower levels of stress hormones which damage your ability to fight infection.
What does this mean for your exercise plans in the current situation?
Inactivity is the silent killer of our generation. It’s essential to keep a regular exercise cycle as increasing the heart rate and breathing will help you fight illness. Other tips include:
• Be moderately active! Work at around 60-75% of your maximum for 45-60 minutes, most days of the week.
• Wash your hands before and after working out and avoid touching your face.
• Eat healthily – consume plenty of vitamin C and zinc-rich foods such as red peppers, citrus fruit, beans, nuts and wholegrains.
• 1 in 5 people in the UK have low Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D influences the immune system and susceptibility to disease so consider taking a supplement, especially in months with little sunlight.
• Get enough good quality sleep, 6-8 hours per night.