When people think about exercising in order to help themselves be healthier, they’re usually thinking about it in the context of weight loss and improved cardio health. As good as that may be, there’s another component of exercise that you should think about: your immune system.
Exercise can actually directly improve your immune system in a few ways, meaning that while you lose weight you’re also helping prevent yourself from getting sick. The first thing that exercise does to help prevent disease is raise your body’s temperature.
If you’ve exercised in the past, you’ve surely noticed that you get hot during a workout, as your blood is rushing faster and harder through your body. In some cases, this can be similar to a light fever, killing off certain diseases that are trying to get a foothold in your body. Getting warm and sweaty is a quick way to burn some calories and to kill off some nasty bacteria. In a similar sense, getting your blood pumping adds another benefit. Your blood contains white blood cells, which are the cells responsible for fighting bacteria and diseases when they find them.
When you work out and really get your blood flowing faster, you have a better chance of your white blood cells picking up on a disease somewhere in your body, meaning that it’ll be caught sooner rather than later. By catching it earlier, your body can more effectively attack the infection. The heavy breathing associated with cardio can help rid your respiratory system of unwanted bacteria. While you’re calmly breathing as you do normally, any bacteria that have found their way in there can sort of settle in. However, by getting your lungs working hard doing cardio, they have a lower chance of being able to establish themselves and give you a cough.
While exercise is beneficial to your immune system, this doesn’t mean that you suddenly have to become a gym rat just to stay healthy. You can reap the benefits of exercise on your immune system by simply going on a brisk walk or jog every day or so. You don’t have to go running a marathon, just a quick 15-20 minute fast walk is sufficient. In some cases, people can overwork themselves to the point that they actually end up compromising their immune systems more than they help them, so just take it lightly.