Endurance Sports Can Help The Body Fight Off Illness, Researchers Say

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A new research study shows that competing in endurance sports or running marathons helps the body in fighting off illness. Previous findings show us otherwise, saying that too much exercise will suppress the immune system and makes the body more prone to infections.

The old study was done in 1980 when scientists asked competitors in the Los Angeles Marathon if they had any health issues the days or weeks after the race. Many stated that they did.

But now, University of Bath’s researchers have a new opinion. They have reinterpreted the findings and say that after high-intensity exercise, immune cells undergo two changes:

The first change is when some immune cells in the bloodstream increase up to 10 times and they are the ones that deal with infections.

The second change happens after the exercise when some of the cells in the bloodstream decrease to lower levels than those before the exercise, and it can last for a few hours.

Scientists previously thought that the decrease of the immune cells after exercise was immune-suppression. But the evidence actually shows that those cells weren’t destroyed or lost, they were just moved to other places in the body that are more prone to infection, like the lungs.

Exercise Boosts the Immune System

Dr. John Campbell said that this is a clear evidence that the “immune system is boosted after exercise – for example, we know that exercise can improve your immune response to a flu jab.”

The co-author of the study, Dr. James Turner adds that exercise is very important to our bodies, as it reduces “the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes”, so their study is an emphasis on the health benefits of exercise, and that “people should not be put off exercise for fear that it will dampen their immune system.”

What can increase the likelihood of getting an infection is going someplace crowded or having a poor diet.

More information on the study can be found in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, under the title: Debunking the Myth of Exercise-Induced Immune Suppression: Redefining the Impact of Exercise on Immunological Health Across the Lifespan.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere

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