Exercise is a powerful immune booster. However, if you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or are recovering from it, you may want to tone it down a bit, according to a recent study.
It goes without saying that the best defense against the invasion of dangerous viruses is a strong immune system. With regard to exercise, scientists have debated for many years whether exercise aids or hinders our body’s ability to keep us healthy.
This controversial debate began in the 1980s when scientists found that certain marathon runners suffered from various illnesses in the days following the races. The idea that exercise suppressed our immune systems has since become rife, despite the obvious flaws in the original study and subsequent ones, which show that marathon runners actually missed fewer days of training because of illness compared to less active athletes.
Since then there has also been increasing evidence to the contrary. For example, one study found that mice infected with the influenza virus and walking 20 to 30 minutes a day for three days had a higher chance of survival than their sedentary counterparts.
More recently, scientists have refuted the so-called open window theory, according to which immune cells enter the bloodstream through intense exercise, flood it and then disappear, leaving the body vulnerable to all types of pathogens.
Subsequent studies have shown that the frequency and function of immune cells in the blood decrease after an intensive and prolonged training session, but this does not cause a suppression of the immune system, on the contrary, it increases the state of monitoring of the immune system and regulation, which is achieved through preferential mobilization powered by immune cells in peripheral tissues.
To date, no study has produced enough evidence directly linking exercise to an increased likelihood of developing a viral infection. In general, if you’ve been exercising regularly your entire life, despite numerous concerns about COVID-19, it’s still safe to continue.
In any case, it may not be advisable to follow an intense exercise program while recovering from the coronavirus. This comes from an analysis of studies published in May by the American College of Cardiology.
There is still controversy as to whether more intense and prolonged exercise could negatively affect the immune system and make people more susceptible to disease. Given that the coronavirus has numerous direct and indirect effects on the heart, questions about the safety of movement in people exposed to or recovering from the coronavirus still remain.
If you’ve been physically active before, stay tuned. When you resume your exercise, take it easy. Be careful and stay healthy.
In addition to moderate exercise, you can take a few other measures here to improve your immune system and strengthen its defenses.