The latest study debunks the age old myth that that strenuous exercise increases infection risk and suppress immunity. In fact, stronger endurance training may only increase overall immunity.
Competing in endurance sports like marathon running may boost immunity, claims a new study. The latest study debunks the age old myth that that strenuous exercise increases infection risk.
“It is increasingly clear that changes happening to your immune system after a strenuous bout of exercise do not leave your body immune-suppressed,” said study co-author John Campbell from University of Bath in Britain.
“In fact, evidence now suggests that your immune system is boosted after exercise — for example we know that exercise can improve your immune response to a flu jab,” Campbell added.
The myth fell on many years due to the research from the 1980s which focused on events such as the Los Angeles Marathon. The competitors were sked if they faced symptoms of infections in the days and weeks after their race. Mnay competitors did report of infection, which led to a widespread belief that endurance sports increase infection risk by suppressing our immune system.
For the study published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, the researchers attempted to reinterpret the findings.In a detailed analysis of research articles that have been published since the 1980s, the researchers revealed that there is in fact no cause of worry for the avid marathon runners.
For competitors taking part in endurance sports, exercise causes immune cells to change in two ways, the researchers noted.
The scientists revealed that initially, during exercise, the number of some immune cells in the bloodstream can increase dramatically by up to 10 times, especially “natural killer cells” which deal with infections. But after exercise, some cells in the bloodstream decrease substantially — sometimes falling to levels lower than before exercise started, and this can last for several hours.
One of the findings of the study was that many scientists previously interpreted this fall in immune cells after exercise to be immune-suppression, which may not be the case entirely.
There are strong evidence that suggests that the pattern does not indicate that cells have been ‘lost’ or ‘destroyed’, but rather that they move to other sites in the body that are more likely to become infected, such as the lungs.
The researchers therefore concluded that low number of immune cells in the bloodstream in the hours after exercise, may infact a signal that these cells, primed by exercise, are working in other parts of the body.
“The findings from our analysis emphasise that people should not be put off exercise for fear that it will dampen their immune system. Clearly, the benefits of exercise, including endurance sports, outweigh any negative effects which people may perceive,” study co-author James Turner from University of Bath said.
Your diet can do wonders for your immunity too.
Here are few herbs, spices and other foods that support the immune system:
- Black Pepper: The healing pepper is carminative; it discourages intestinal gas, and warms the body so it promotes sweating, which helps rid the body of toxins. Black pepper may contain not only anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-bacterial and fever reducing actions but immune system enhancing properties as well.
- Ginger-Garlic: Both ginger and garlic are loaded with antiviral and antimcoribial properties that prevent the onset of diseases. The super anti-inflammatory properties present in ginger and garlic bring relief to those horrid body aches. They help soothe away nausea too.
- Turmeric: It has a global reputation for boosting immunity. It acts as an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent and helps in boosting the overall functioning of our immune system. It can be taken in warm milk for its best benefits.
- Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha is an ancient herb. It is the ginseng of Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine of India and is considered an adaptogen – a term used to describe herbs that improve physical energy and athletic ability, increase immunity, fight infections and increase fertility as well.
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