The Immune System Benefits of Exercise

In the Korean language, it turns out there are numerous ways to say “crisis”, and one of the “crisis” words means “bifurcation or  diverging point.”…one path that splits into two.  Any time there are two ways to possibly go, there is the power of choice.  Even though a lot of things are out of our control, it is important to pay attention to the things we can control and the choices we can make, as a way to maintain our personal resilience.

Since our “homestay” began, I’ve been out walking daily, usually with my husband, and always paying close attention to the “6-foot away rule” if we pass anyone on our path in the woods.  We’ve done these walks B.C. (before COVID), without much other “foot traffic”; in fact, it was  rare to see another person.   But now? Lots of people are getting out in the fresh air and choosing to make this time a healthier time by walking.

Exercise has a number of health benefits that are especially important now.  Exercise helps us to  “stay in the moment” and to decrease anxiety.  It supports proper immune system function by enhancing immune system competency and regulation.  Studies continue to show that regular physical activity and frequent structured exercise reduces incidence of viral and bacterial infections in addition to decreasing other chronic diseases such as cancer, inflammatory disorders, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  Regular exercise for all ages, but especially in older adults, increases both numbers and effectiveness of a variety of immune cells in our bodies: T cells, natural killer cells and neutrophils.

Currently the WNC data shows that all the work each of us are doing to stay home, and social distance when we do need to go out is working!  As we continue to  “flatten the curve” of coronavirus, and as our weather in WNC transitions to summer, take heart and know that by choosing to do some daily exercise, you are choosing to support your health in a variety of ways.

If you would like a personalized integrative wellness plan during this time, telemedicine consultations are available- call the office at 828-333-3339 for more information.