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How to Fight the Coronavirus With Exercise

Did you know that when the First World War broke out in 1914, Joseph Pilates was interned as an enemy alien, first in a camp in Lancaster and then later on the Isle of Man? He shared his passion for health with his fellow internees training them in wrestling, self-defense and later Pilates. His training was so powerful that he is credited with having saved the internees from the devastating influenza epidemic of 1918 which killed millions of people worldwide.

Then, in 2005 a series of experiments with mice, showed that if rodents jogged gently for about 30 minutes a day for several weeks, they were much more likely to survive a virulent form of rodent influenza than untrained animals.

Ok so we’re not mice, but it’s clear from the research that exercise boosts immunity!

Scientists are still trying to work out exactly how and why exercise boosts your immunity and there are several theories out there about this. Here are some theories:

  • Physical activity may help flush out bacteria from the lungs and airways, therefore reducing your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.

  • Exercise causes change in antibodies and white blood cells (which fight off disease), causing them to circulate more rapidly around the body, therefore helping them detect illnesses earlier than they might have before.

  • The brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection better (in a similar way to how your body fights off a fever)

  • Exercise slows down the release of stress hormones. This is great because some stress increases the chance of illness, so by keeping stress hormone levels lower you may protect yourself against illness.

Exercise is good for you, but you should not overdo it.

Although there is currently “no or limited reliable evidence that exercise directly increases the chance of developing any kind of viral infection” there has been some evidence suggesting that long, intensive sessions like marathon running or a heavy weights session can have the reverse effect and dampen your immune system. This effect seems to be more dramatic with cardio-based sessions than resistance training (another reason why you should pick up those dumbbells!).

The World Health Organization recommends resistance training 2-3 times a week working all the major muscles. In addition to that, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

But what’s moderate intensity?

Moderate intensity is 65-75% Heart Rate Max, where HRmax is 220-age.

So if you are a 45-year-old, your HRmax is 220-45 = 175 bpm.

  • Multiply this by 0.65 to give 65% = 114 bpm

  • Multiply this by 0.75 to give 75% = 131 bpm

A 45-year-old should therefore aim for 5 x 30 min sessions with a heart rate between 114-131 bpm!

So next time you’re out for a walk (since fresh air and sunshine also boost your immunity!) aim to get your heart rate up between 65-75% and you’ll be better prepared for fighting off infection!

Here are a few other guidelines to follow:

  • If you have not been exercising, start off gently. Now is not the time to start off on a highly ambitions exercise routine!

  • Avoid large increases in exercise intensity and duration. Keep progressions gradual.

  • Keep sessions short or skip them if you are feeling extra tired or unwell.

  • Avoid training partners if you are sniffling or coughing.

And if you’re worried about the germiness of gyms then I have a better solution! Train and home with me! With 3-4 workouts a week of under 30 minutes you could reap the health benefits without leaving the house! All you need is a set of dumbbells to get going. Membership is currently open for THIS WEEK ONLY. 15 spots available and 4 have gone already.

Plus this month, I have a special bonus – A workshop on Food Labels! Then in April I’ll be hosting an online masterclass for my group on Gut Health.

Don’t miss out, check it out today before spaces fill ==> https://www.myrehabfitness.com/sfwsignup

Have an amazing day, and stay well!




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