It’s a fact...people who are active get significantly fewer upper respiratory tract infections per year than less-active people.
Given the current climate, it’s important to know that regular exercise helps the immune system function better. Even if we are participating in just 20 minutes a day, this can have an extremely positive impact on your health and how strong your immune system is.
Basically the immune system has three main lines of defense. Exercise helps maintain the normal function of each of these.
First line of defense:
Physical barriers like the skin, stops pathogens like viruses from entering the body. Research has shown that skin wound healing is faster in people who exercise regularly compared to sedentary people. Faster wound healing reduces the risk of bacteria and virus entry in people who are active.
Second line of defense:
Innate, or natural immunity, which is mainly made up of cells like neutrophils and natural killer cells which are the first immune cells to respond to infections.
Exercise has a profound effect on these cells. For example, during a bout of exercise, natural killer cells move into the bloodstream in vast numbers. Following exercise, these cells migrate to sites of inflammation to seek out pathogens, and damaged cells. This process might even help our immune system detect cancerous cells.
Third line of defense:
Memory immunity, which is mainly comprised of cells called T and B lymphocytes. Exercise has a profound impact on these cells. It has been shown that lifelong regular exercise may help maintain healthy numbers of young T lymphocytes as we age, which may help the immune system better identify pathogens and cancer as we reach older age.