A study involving a thousand people discovered that staying active almost halved the odds of catching a cold and even if they did, the infection was less severe. Researchers explained that this could be because exercise helps bolster the immune system to fight off bugs.
How exercise helps boost immunity
Volunteers involved in this study were asked to maintain a record of the coughs and sniffles they had during a three-month period during the autumn and winter. They also had to journal how frequently they did exercises that lasted at least 20 minutes and were intensive enough to make them sweat. They answered questions related to their diet, lifestyle, and recent stressful events, as these are factors that can impact the immune system.
Those who were active for a minimum of five days a week were found to be suffering from a cold for barely five days during the three-month test period, while the ones who did little or no exercise were unwell for an average of nine days. The severity of symptoms was 41% less among those who “felt” the fittest. For those who were the most active, it was down by 31%.
“The bouts of exercise spark a temporary rise in immune system cells circulating around the body that can attack foreign invaders,” said Dr. David Nieman, lead researcher from Appalachian State University. “Although these levels fall back within a few hours, each session is likely to provide an immune boost to fight off infections like the common cold.”
The best exercises for immunity boost
Though walking is a great exercise that can make a significant difference in your health, it is insufficient for most people to achieve the benefits we are discussing here. The study made it clear that the beneficial exercises lasted at least 20 minutes and were intensive enough to make the volunteers sweat. For getting the maximum benefits from an exercise, you need to challenge your body and allow it the adequate time for recovery and repair.
HIIT workouts to optimize your metabolism
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the best ways to accomplish this. It optimises your metabolism and help regulate your blood sugar levels. You can choose cardio activities like cycling, swimming or running, but you have to workout in intervals of high intensity spaced with low-intensity recovery periods. Beginners can try jogging if they can’t sprint and alternate with walking for the recovery period. Try not to be too slow, though. Your body must be prevented from recovering completely and your heart rate should be kept high during the entire workout session, thus maximizing the benefits.
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How to get started
Get up and do light exercises every 15 minutes if possible. Core exercises that involve the muscles of your back, abdomen and pelvis help to strengthen and stabilize your body, while stretching exercises improve circulation and increase the elasticity of muscle joints. You can add a couple of days of strength training to your routine to build up muscle strength and endurance. Remember, the study found that “feeling fit” was as important as being active.