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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 March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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