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How is exercising while sheltering in place helping to keep us safe from the corona virus?

I was asked by a client to awnswer this question.

How is exercising while sheltering in place helping to keep us safe from the corona virus? Eating well, sleeping plenty, taking supplements if we choose - all of that builds up our immunity, I understand. Specifically, what is exercising doing for our immunity? Or is it just keeping us strong so that if we do get sick, we have a better starting place from which to fight?

1. Exercise helps decrease your chances of developing heart disease. It also keeps your bones healthy and strong.

2. Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.

3. Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones. Some stress increases the chance of illness. Lower stress hormones may protect against illness.

4. Exercise is good for you, but, you should not overdo it. People who already exercise should not exercise more just to increase their immunity. Prolonged bouts of strenuous exercise have been shown to result in short term depression of white blood cell functions and can create an “open window” of decreased host protection, during which viruses and bacteria can increase the risk of developing an infection. (See J-shaped curve)

According to the J-shaped curve, moderate amounts of exercise may enhance immune function above sedentary levels, while excessive amounts of prolonged high intensity exercise may impair immune function.

5.Infections are more likely to be linked to a poor diet, psychological stress, inadequate sleep, travel and importantly, pathogen exposure at social gatherings -- rather than the act of exercising itself.

Studies have shown that people who follow a moderately energetic lifestyle, benefit most from starting and sticking to an exercise program. A moderate program can consist of:

  • Bicycling with your children a few times a week

  • Taking daily 20 to 30 minute walks

  • Going to the gym every other day

  • Playing golf regularly

In the context of coronavirus and the conditions we find ourselves in today, the most important consideration is reducing your exposure from other people who may be carrying the virus. But do not overlook the importance of staying fit, active and healthy during this period. Provided it is carried out in isolation -- away from others -- then regular, daily exercise will help better maintain the way the immune system works -- not suppress it."


Regular exercise benefits immunity -- even in isolation Date: March 31, 2020 Source: University of Bath

Exercise and immunity –

Exercise and Immunity By Hilde Grindvik Nielsen Submitted: May 8th 2012Reviewed: October 25th 2012Published: May 15th 2013 DOI: 10.5772/54681

SSE #151 Effects of Exercise on Immune Function Published September 2015 Author Michael Gleeson

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