The whole world has been living with the fear of catching the global pandemic of coronaviruses for the past many months. People were never as conscious of their health habits as they are now.
We all need a healthy and strong immune system to combat any kind of disease. Especially for a disease that has evolved to a multi-variant and can quickly become resistant to the new vaccines. All that we can do is to work on improving our immune systems.
Now there are multiple ways to make your immunity stronger and that is achieved by eating healthy and nutritious food, following a proper sleeping pattern, staying stress-free, and most importantly, a regular exercise and weight training which can help a lot in this regard.
Health experts and fitness enthusiasts have a lot to say in this regard. Most people have recommended not to go outdoors in public places like a gym to work out during the pandemic. Also when your area you are living is in lockdown, going outside is impossible and very risky.
This is because there is a higher risk of catching the virus in public and wearing a mask during exercising is not exactly healthy. However, there are several exercises that have been suggested by these experts to do at home.
COVID-19 already gives us a strong reason to avoid using the elevators but the benefit is not just in terms of social distancing. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator helps in building and maintaining your lower body muscles and as a result muscles helps to build a healthy and strong immune system.
According to Dr. Craig Wright who is a senior lecturer at Deakin University’s Institute of Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), “If you have a healthy muscle mass across the lifespan then you have a reserve of amino acids that helps your immune system respond quickly to infection and diseases”. He further adds that as we age, people who have more muscle mount a better immune response which positively leads to less time being sick.
Strength train your immune system
Dr. Kate Edwards, associate professor in the Discipline of Exercise and Sports Sciences at the University of Sydney explains how muscle helps to build a healthy immune system.
She says that imagine your immune system and its white blood cells as an army that is always there to protect and fight for you. It is always ready but not always at war. It is sometimes in a resting state and is waiting for a signal to come from your body to spring into action.
When there is an issue, the said signal can come from any organ or system of the body like the stomach or the respiratory system. Now, interestingly, exercise can cause a similar response causing immune cells to be sent to a different part of the body for surveillance.
To put it simply, if you go for a run there will be more immune cells navigating in your blood to protect you from potentially harmful germs.
How mood impacts your immunity
Working out and strength training especially boosts the immune system as the blood throughout the body is being pumped, stress is being relieved and endorphins are also being released. Our bodies are more prone to diseases when we are under stress but strength training helps with lifting and easing off the stress. The release of endorphins also means a happy you which also has a positive impact on your immune system.
What studies say
Top health officials like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention still encourage regular exercise and for a good reason. A review in the Journal of Sport and Health Science states that exercising regularly or having a nice workout routine improves your immune response, reduces inflammation, and lowers the risk of illness. There is a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine which found that those who did aerobic exercise for five or more days of the week lowered the number of upper respiratory tract infections, for example, the common cold, over a period of 12 weeks by more than 40 percent.
Exercising prevents cancer
Similar studies and articles backed by scientific evidence have proved that exercising even helps in preventing cancer and also helps in dealing with cancer’s debilitating effects. There are not any drugs that help with the fatigue that comes with cancer and during its treatment but there are certain exercises that are recommended by doctors that fight this fatigue.
Old age health risk protection
As we age, our muscles start to shrink and the muscle mass declines but that is only if we let it. We can maintain it with strength training which helps shore up the immune system. According to Professor Newton, “In older people, the combination of shrinking muscle and declining immunity – often compounded by excess fat – is a perfect storm for a compromised immune system.”
There is a condition of low muscle mass called sarcopenia and this condition is much higher in people of old age. It is also, unfortunately, increasing at a fast rate because of unhealthy and inactive lifestyles.
Right now is too early to state if there exists a relationship between sarcopenia and the risk of catching the COVID-19 virus but there is already evidence present of a link between sarcopenia and some other severe infectious diseases like pneumonia.
That is why it is equally or even more important to engage elderly people in some nice and healthy physical activities or exercises including strength training to maintain their muscle mass.
If you are still not convinced of how important a role strength training plays in boosting your immune system, here is a reference to another study. According to Rob Newton, there is a raft of studies that show that the effectiveness of vaccinations is enhanced by exercise. Exercising develops immunity to the target disease when immediately done before or after a vaccination.
If there is anything you need to do, it is to get yourself a nice workout gear which would include all essentials that you would require for an active work out session. Select a space inside your house to strength train yourself regularly so you can start working on your immunity.
Let us know what you think of this article and if you have any ideas what to add please share your comments below. To better health and immunity!