Yesterday, I offered a list of activities that would serve your health better than spending the day watching more coronavirus coverage on cable news. And I’m sure it didn’t surprise you to see exercise on the list.
So today, I’m going to take that a step further by sharing new research that shows exactly why exercise is more important now than ever. Yes, even—and perhaps especially—in the midst of a global pandemic…
Hard workouts won’t hurt—and even easy ones help
As part of a new analysis featured in the Exercise Immunology Review, two exercise physiologists from the University of Bath recently set out to settle the question of whether or not heavy exercise is your immune system’s ally or enemy.
The answer to this question may seem obvious. But believe it or not, there’s been ongoing debate over whether hard workouts, especially, suppress immune function and open the door to infections in the hours and days afterward.
So if these concerns are keeping you from starting a new workout routine—or leveling up the one you already have—these latest conclusions should put your mind at ease in more ways than one.
I’ll start with the most important takeaway: Regular, brief, moderate-intensity exercise routines—we’re talking 45 minutes or less of brisk walking, for example—directly benefit your immune defenses.
In the short term, exercise supports your body in hunting down and eliminating pathogens. But it’s especially important if you’re older or suffer from chronic disease. That’s because, over time, regular physical activity slows down age-related immune system changes. (A lethal and widespread problem, which I call immunity rot.)
So needless to say, everyone should be incorporating some sort of exercise into their day-to-day routines at a minimum—to the tune of at least 150 minutes per week (which breaks down to about 20 minutes daily).
And if you can do more? Well, according to these researchers, you should. Because sustained vigorous activity is just as beneficial, as long as it’s paired with a healthy, balanced diet, and plenty of rest and recovery time.
Exercise during social isolation
If your state is one of many in this country that has mandated critical stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you may be wondering what that means for the future of your exercise routine—whether you’re a marathon runner or just an after-dinner walker.
But your routine doesn’t necessarily have to change much at all. Gyms and other exercise facilities may be closed. But, as I mentioned yesterday, you can—and should—continue exercising. So, go for walks, bike rides, and runs around your neighborhood (provided you are maintaining six feet of distance from other people at all times, and wearing a mask).
Of course, if you also happen to struggle with seasonal allergies, outdoor exercise may be out of the equation. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of options.
You can craft an effective workout routine from using items from your own home. (As I’ve explained here before, even going up and down the stairs can make a difference.) The internet is also full of free workout videos you can stream right through your living room TV. (That includes meditation and yoga practices, too!)
Whatever your preference, here’s the bottom line: Exercise doesn’t just help to ease the stress and anxiety that we’re all struggling with right now. It’s also one of the most effective ways to keep your immune system firing on all cylinders.
Simple daily workouts won’t cost you a penny. But if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: They absolutely can save your life.
P.S. Not sure what type of exercise to start incorporating into your daily routine? Well, I break down three basic types of exercise—and how you can choose what’s right for you—in the March 2013 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“Putting your workouts to work for you”). Subscribers have access all of my past issues in the archives. So if you haven’t already, consider signing up today. All it takes is one click!
“Regular exercise benefits immunity—even in isolation.” Science Daily, 03/31/2020. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200331162314.htm)