Even if your levels of cytokines and immune cells gradually drop two or three hours after you stop exercising, your immune system will become more responsive and possibly more responsive, says Dr. catch germs faster over time if you exercise every day. “Your immune system is already prepared and it is in a better fight to deal with the viral load at any given time,” he said.
In healthy people, physical activity has also been linked to a reduction in chronic inflammation. Widespread inflammation can be extremely damaging, even turning your own immune cells against your body. Dr Nieman said this is a known risk factor for Covid-19. It makes sense, therefore, that reducing inflammation could improve your chances of fighting off infection, he said.
Research also shows that exercise can amplify the benefits of some vaccines. For example, people who exercised immediately after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine, seemed to produce more antibodies. And in studies of older adults who were vaccinated early in the flu season, those who exercised have long-lasting antibodies. all winter.
Dr Stuart Ray, an infectious disease specialist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said: “Exercise has many health benefits that can help reduce the incidence and severity of disease. For example, building a walk, jogging, gym or sport of your choice into your routine helps reduce obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, for example, all of which Risk factors for severe flu and Covid-19. Exercise can help you achieve sleep better, lift your mood and improve your insulin metabolism and heart health, improving your chances against flu and Covid-19. It’s hard to know, Dr. Ray said, whether the benefits come from direct changes to the immune system or just better overall health.
Research can only tell us so much.
Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, agrees that more research is needed before scientists can identify a specific mechanism or causal link. fruit. Meanwhile, he said, it’s important not to put too much faith in it.
“Right now, you can’t say, ‘I’m going to the gym so I can prevent Covid’,” said Dr Chin-Hong. Dr Ray said the problem with studying the exact impact of physical activity on immunity is that exercise is not something scientists can easily measure on a linear scale. “People exercise in different ways.”