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Study Finds That Exercise Isn’t Necessarily Good For Our Immune System

Study Finds That Exercise Isn’t Necessarily Good For Our Immune System

We are all aware of how exercise helps our body to become better and makes us fitter. But studies have shown that the reverse is also true.

Following the popular saying that too much of a good thing can be bad, it has been revealed through many studies that too much exercise actually harms the body, particularly the immune system. This can come as a surprise to many of us, but the evidence is there.

Intense vs. Moderate Exercise

Several studies have shown that there has been a direct negative effect on the immune system of people who performed strenuous amounts of exercise without a proper amount of rest in between. Various published papers throughout the years have shown evidence of this fact. Hence, these findings cannot and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

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A study conducted in Australia, the results of which were published in 2007, brings light to the suggestion that elite trained athletes, i.e. the ones who perform and exercise harder than moderately exercising people are more susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections or URTI (generally known as the common cold) than people who exercise in small amounts or recreationally.

The study was conducted among a number of elite athletes or people who maintain a hard routine of exercise and people who perform little to moderate amount of exercise. The end results were found to point to the direction that there is a relatively positive chance that high amount of exercise can link to having a bad immune system and get acute URTI symptoms.

Another study was conducted by the Loughborough University in the United Kingdom, the purpose of which was to provide a summary of how exercising affects the immune system. In the paper published after the study was conducted, it was concluded that exercising too much can, in fact, cause a temporary depression of the immune system. This effect of depression of the immune system is noticeable at its peak if the hour of exercise is prolonged more than 1.5 hours and the intensity is too high.

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Relation between URTI and Exercise Amount

In most of these studies, there appeared a common phenomenon in the relationship between the amount of exercise and the state of the immune system. It usually is depicted as a J-shaped curve. This J-shaped curve shows the relationship between amount and intensity of exercise and the occurrence or prominence of URTI incidence in the people. Those who had lower levels of URTI illness witnessed in them were usually the recreational athletes and people who maintained a moderate amount of exercise, while the substantially higher rates of URTI occurred among the elite athletes.

The following image of the J-curve is taken from a study conducted and published in 1994, and it depicts the relationship between Risk of URTI and Amount and Intensity of Exercise as follows:

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j-curve

    Graph source

    As you can see, it depicts that the way to keep the immune system from any kind of dangerous levels of harm is by pursuing a moderate exercising lifestyle. Whereas, it can be seen that sedentary amount and intensity of exercise, as in those who do too little exercise of lower intensity also possess a threat to their body’s immune system. Likewise, a workout of high intensity and consisting of a longer period of time can be equally, if not more, harmful to the immune system and the body in general.

    Some may argue that this being a graph from a study performed way back in time might not be fully correct, given the fact that recent studies have emerged. But despite slight differences, all studies related to this topic the relationship between of exercise and harm to immune system mostly provides the same conclusion as has been drawn in this article. If all their finding were to be taken and recreated as a graph or a pictorial edition, no doubt the end result would look somewhat similar to the one shown above.

    The Verdict

    Moderation is the key. Exercise too little, and you have the potential danger of making your body unfit, as well as being known as a couch potato. Exercise too much, on the other hand, and you really do have the potential danger of harming your immune system and in turn, your body.

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    So learn to recognize your body’s signals and gut intuitions. Know when your body can’t take it anymore and give it, and yourself, some well-deserved rest.

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    Last Updated on September 20, 2018

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

    Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

    If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

    1. Breathe

    The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

    • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
    • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
    • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

    Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

    2. Loosen up

    After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

    Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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    3. Chew slowly

    Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

    Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

    Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

    4. Let go

    Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

    The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

    It’s not. Promise.

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    Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

    Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

    21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

    5. Enjoy the journey

    Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

    Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

    6. Look at the big picture

    The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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    Will this matter to me…

    • Next week?
    • Next month?
    • Next year?
    • In 10 years?

    Hint: No, it won’t.

    I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

    Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

    7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

    You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

    Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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    8. Practice patience every day

    Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

    • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
    • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
    • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

    Final thoughts

    Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

    Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

    Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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