Exercise Good for What Ails Ya! Part 1

Posted by Lloyd on October 04, 2012

You have undoubtedly heard of the many benefits of regular exercise. Reduction in body fat, improved cardiovascular function and reduced blood cholesterol are all well-known benefits of exercise. In addition to these physiological benefits there are psychological benefits as well.

With all the benefits of exercise frequently touted by others or myself, am I going to present even more evidence that exercise is worthwhile and even necessary to live a long and healthy life? Yep! I sure am! There is no getting around the fact that exercise is the single most important activity that you can do to maintain and improve your health.

So what new magical benefit of exercise am I going to focus on this month? If the title didn’t give it away, it’s the elusive and poorly understood immune system. Your immune system is the only thing standing in the way of you and a disease. In addition, many authorities believe that heart disease and arthritis are also related to poor immune function. Without a strong immune system you are a sitting duck for any bacteria, virus, microbe, spore, mold, or med-fly that wants to set up shop in your body (I was just kidding about the med-fly).

So how do you maintain and strengthen your immune system in a safe and effective way? Yes, my friends, exercise saves the day again! Exercise is the one thing that can strengthen your immune system without the side effects of drugs or costly acupuncture treatments.

Enough with the prelude, just how does exercise help my immune system? Oh, let me count the ways:

1) Exercise stimulates the production of “T” lymphocytes.

In a recent study, a group of previously sedentary adults were followed to determine the effects of six months of moderate aerobic exercise on “T” lymphocyte and natural killer cell number and function. These subjects, most over age 65, were randomly assigned to supervised, three times a week, exercise programs. The results showed an increase in both “T” lymphocytes and natural killer cells for the exercise group, with no change in the control group.

One of the ways that exercise strengthens the immune system is through the release of “beta-endorphins.” These endorphins are responsible for the feeling that is commonly referred to as the “runner’s high.” Surprisingly enough, exercise stimulates the immune system by the release of beta-endorphins. These endorphins in turn stimulate the production of “T” lymphocytes from the thymus gland with natural killer cell activity. These are the little guys who seek out and destroy foreign invaders in the body like a virus or bacteria. Exercise actually increases the number of these “T” cells, which is a good thing.

2) Exercise increases the metabolic rate, which stimulates the immune system.

Another way that exercise strengthens the immune system is by increasing the metabolism. The most metabolically active tissue in the body is muscle tissue. Muscle tissue is, to a large extent, the determinate of the metabolic rate.

The more muscle tissue one has, the higher the metabolic rate. The good news is that exercise has been shown to increase lean body tissue (muscle tissue) and reduce fat. So magically, an increase in muscle tissue from regular exercise will also increase the body’s metabolic rate, even during rest. This increase in the metabolic rate, as a result of exercise, has been shown to have positive effects on the immune system.

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