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Exercise Affects Immune Function

Importance Of Optimizing Your Baseline Health

The current crisis from Covid-19 has made it clear that the most important variable in determining individual and societal risk is lowered baseline health and immunity. The people most at risk of serious illness are immunocompromised including those with pre-existing conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Regular exercise reduces the chance of diabetes and obesity by 90%, and also directly increases immune function, even if someone is already obese or diabetic. Increasing your baseline health and immunity with healthy lifestyle choices is a powerful and effective way to protect yourself from illness and can improve the length and quality of your life.[1]

How Does Exercise Affect The Immune System?

A singular session of moderate physical exercise promotes improved but impermanent immunosurveillance. However, regular moderate physical exercise promotes multiple immune system benefits including:

  • decreased illness incidence, including influenza and pneumonia
  • decreased mortality for influenza and pneumonia
  • dampened systemic inflammation

What is Immunosenescence?

Immunosenescence is defined as the deterioration of the immune system brought on by aging. However, it is not simply aging that causes immunosenescence, or any age-related chronic illness, it is the accumulation of the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle over time. There are vast differences in health status among the elderly, and among all age groups, that cannot be explained by age, or genetics, but can be explained by lifestyle.[1]

What Happens To Your Immune System When You Exercise?

Regular exercise is a genetic requirement for the human species, humans cannot be healthy without it. Studies show sufficient exercise is a proven way to:

  • increase baseline health
  • increase immunity
  • decrease the risk and/or severity of viral infection
  • improve gut microbiome, which have been shown to influence immune function both within the gut and systematically
    • diversified gut microbiota
    • enhanced number of probiotic microbial communities in gut[1]

What Happens To Your Immune System When You Don’t Exercise?

Exercise is an essential human need, without exercise humans become sick and immunocompromised. Exercise deficiency is a primary cause of:

  • chronic inflammation
  • obesity
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • arthritis
  • increased risk of viral and bacterial upper respiratory tract infections
  • reduced immune function
  • increased risk regarding infection and severity of infection from cold viruses such as coronavirus, rhinovirus and influenza virus
  • atherosclerosis
  • cardiovascular disease
  • chronic kidney disease
  • liver disease
  • metabolic syndrome
  • insulin resistance
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Sarcopenia
  • bone resorption and osteoporosis
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Dementia
  • Depression[1]

Types Of Exercise & Their Effect On The Immune System

Moderate Exercise & The Immune System

Moderate exercise is a eustress, meaning it trains the immune response and increases circulation of immune cells. Studies show that regular moderate exercise reduces upper respiratory tract infections (colds and the flu) symptom days more than most medications.[1]

Routine Exercise & The Immune System

Routine exercise is capable of regulating the immune system and delaying the onset of immunosenescence (deterioration of immune system with age). Daily exercise is essential for:

  • expression of health
  • proper regulation of inflammation
  • healthy immune function
  • healthy moods
  • overall quality of life
  • prevention of respiratory and chronic illnesses[1] 

Can Exercise Be Bad For The Immune System?

Over-training and acute bouts of intense, prolonged exercise create vastly different effects from regular moderate exercise or healthy intervals of intense exercise. An example of acute, intense, prolonged exercise would be running a marathon. Studies show people running more than 96 km/week vs. less than 32 km/week doubled their odds for illness. During and immediately after acute exercise the nervous system will experience:

  • fatigue
  • less efficiency
  • broken down, inflamed, weaker muscles
  • higher cortisol levels
  • shift from autonomic balance toward sympathetic dominance
  • higher blood pressure 
  • higher heart rate
  • inhibited digestion
  • acute immune responses[1]

What Exercise Is Best For The Immune System?

Daily, moderate exercise is best for a healthy immune system. Moderate exercise is defined as anything that gets your heart rate up to 50 to 60 percent higher than its rate when you are at rest. Examples of moderate exercise include:

  • Walking two miles in 30 minutes
  • Biking five miles in 30 minutes
  • Swimming laps for 20 minutes
  • Running 1.5 miles in 15 minutes
  • Playing volleyball for 45 minutes
  • Playing basketball for 20 minutes
  • Jump-roping for 15 minutes
  • Walking stairs for 15 minutes

How Do You Optimize Your Baseline Health?

Getting daily moderate exercise is essential in optimizing your baseline health. Incorporating other healthy lifestyle choices, including supplementation with Innate Choice OmegA+D Sufficiency, which includes omega-3, Vitamin A and Vitamin D, is the most evidence-based, effective way to optimize your baseline health and immunity. Studies show that immunity can be remodeled during the aging process as a result of interactions with the environment and lifestyle choices. These choices are instrumental in shaping immune status in later life. Immune system interactions with pathogens, host microbiome, nutrition, exercise and mental stress are crucial modulators of the immunosenescence process.[1]

How To Improve Your Ability To Exercise 

Is Injury Or Decreased Range Of Motion Hindering Your Ability To Exercise?

Take care of your spine, ensure you have the mobility, function, and comfort you need to be able to exercise regularly. Get regular spinal checkups and healthy lifestyle tips from your Fort Collins chiropractor Square ONE.

Chiropractic Care To Optimize Your Baseline Health in Fort Collins, CO

At Square ONE Fort Collins chiropractor we use corrective chiropractic care which is shown to improve range of motion, function, reduce pain and inflammation and increase your ability to exercise comfortably and effectively. If you’ve been suffering from chronic pain, immobility, injury or need help optimizing your baseline health, we are here to help you at Square ONE chiropractic in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Square ONE Fort Collins, CO chiropractor offers treatment options to help you move better, feel better and exercise better. With chiropractic care you can expect improved range of motion and function leading to better exercise, less stress on your system, improved immune function and optimized baseline health.  

Contact us today, call 970-207-4463 or click here to request a free consultation and exam, which will be the first step in optimizing your baseline health and improving your ability to exercise.


  1. Nieman, D. & Wentz, L. (2019) The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system. Journal of Sport and Health Science 8: 201-217

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