Your immune system is what keeps us fit and healthy and fights off germs and disease.
There are a lot of things that impact our immune system such as our diet but our training also has a big impact on it.
Everybody knows, well everybody should know, that a healthy diet and eating fruit and veg to get your vitamins and minerals help keep your body healthy.
But training and exercising impacts your immune system too. But it ca effect it in a good way and a bad way.
Regular light exercise is great for your immune system but Going too hard and over training is awful for your immune system.
Whatever your gym goals are, building muscle, losing weight, is a hell of a lot easier when you’re body is working optimally and healthy and firing at all cylinders.
The relationship between exercise and the immune system is relatively new compared to other aspect of health and fitness.
At some point in time any athlete or anyone is exercises either a lot or very intensely, will be get sick. This is usually coming up to an event due to how hard they push themselves. I know in the fight game, a lot of fighters get sick in their fight camp because they do crazy intense training several times a day almost every day which weakens their immune system.
In an attempt to get bigger, faster, fitter and stronger, the body simply gets exhausted from going so hard for so long. The body is left broken and beaten and is easy pickings for whatever germs and disease attack your body.
There was hypothesis that suggested that exercise intensity and the risk of getting upper respiratory tract infection (URTI). This is very common in athletes and people who over train and cause immunodepression.
It was found that moderate exercise can improve your immune system function compared to being sedentary and doing nothing. However, high intensity exercise crashes the immune system so the body’s ability to fight off viral and bacterial diseases is much lower which means you drag your butt to the gym weak and run down due to over training.
This means that doing a bit light cardio and low intensity resistance training makes you feel good and healthy.
So yes you do need to train hard if you want to build strength or build muscle or get fitter and faster but going to hard and not taking enough time to recover will make you feel run down and hinder your training.
So what can you do for your immune system?
Thankfully there are lots that you can do to keep your immune system ready to take on whatever germs and disease you come into contact with.
As I touched on at the start, your diet plays a big factor. There’s a reason that you’ve heard people go on and on your whole life about eating a healthy diet. Because it’s good for your body!
Making sure you get the right vitamins and minerals in your body is essential for it to be firing at all cylinders.
I’ve already made a post about the different types of vitamins and sources and what they do in another blog post so check it out for information on what each vitamin does and good sources of the vitamins.
And if you’re not getting the vitamins you should, take a supplement. The vast majority of people can benefit from taking a multi vitamin. Obviously everyone’s diet is different but even the healthiest of us will miss out a couple of things or not get enough of certain vitamins and minerals.
Even health experts that I listen to take vitamin supplements to make sure they get everything they need.
Sleep is also a massive factor in your body’s health. So much of us nowadays, me included, have sleep problems. We struggle to get to sleep and then when we do we don’t get enough.
Just like having a healthy diet, you’ve also probably heard for years to make sure that you get 8 hours of sleep every night. And I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that most people don’t.
Lack of sleep is a very serious issue and it is something that I will go into more depth about another time as I don’t think that people take not getting enough sleep seriously enough.
There’s also a reason that when you were sick as a kid that your mum would send you to bed. Sleep is a great cure.
When you sleep your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or if there’s any inflammation.
Not enough sleep may decrease production of these protective cytokines. Also, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are lower when you don't get enough sleep.
So basically, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases. Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and cardiovascular disease.
So regular light intensity exercise, 8 hours of sleep and a healthy balanced diet will keep your body firing the way it should.
Another way to keep on top your health and keep your immune system up to standard is following the
Wim Hof Method.
Wim Hof created a system based on breathing and cold exposure. Wim’s method is reasonably deep to get into and I will definitely be going deeper on it another time as it’s something I practice myself.
There is a big focus on breathing. Not just normal breathing but a special meditative breathing technique that focuses on getting lots of oxygen in the blood stream.
This deep breathing technique oxidises the blood and makes the body more alkaline which obviously makes it’s less acidic which is related to inflation and disease.
The cold exposure may not seem the nicest but it is so good for you. Again I want to go deeper into this another time so far now I will just touch on some quick benefits of cold exposure.
1. Builds up brown adipose tissue and helps with fat loss
2. Reduces inflammation and strengthens the immune system
3. Keeps hormone levels balanced
4. Improves the quality of your sleep (which we’ve already discussed the benefits of sleep)
5. Helps with the production of endorphins
If you cover as many of these aspects as you can, you can prevent over training, prevent sickness and injury and keep your body working to the best it can to help you achieve your fitness goals.