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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 18, 2020

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

    Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

    Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

    1. Exercise Daily

    It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

    If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

    Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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    If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

    2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

    Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

    One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

    This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

    3. Acknowledge Your Limits

    Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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    Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

    Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

    4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

    Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

    The basic nutritional advice includes:

    • Eat unprocessed foods
    • Eat more veggies
    • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
    • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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    Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

      5. Watch Out for Travel

      Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

      This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

      If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

      6. Start Slow

      Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

      If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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      7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

      Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

      My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

      If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

      I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

      Final Thoughts

      Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

      Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

      More Tips on Getting in Shape

      Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

      Reference

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