Walk It Off

 As we move towards fall, we start to see ads for flu vaccinations and the prospect of cold wet days with stuffy noses come to mind. So now is the time to boost our immune systems and get our white cells all ready to tackle those invaders.

Eating right goes without saying, of course, but what about exercise? The answer is don’t do anything rash. Syu et al have reported on a study into the effects of exercise on the fate of our white cells and, hence, our immune system (1).

They took 13 couch potatoes aged between 20 and 24 years old and split them into an exercise group and a control group. Each gave blood samples that were checked for white cell recycling and their ability to produce reactive oxygen species that attack invaders.

The control group had some extreme workouts every couple of months but otherwise enjoyed their couch occupancy. The extreme workout took them to exhaustion, so wasn’t too much fun. The other group had a regular, softer exercise program.

 The results showed that the once in a while extreme workouts was bad in that they raised the recycling rate of the white cells which subsequently left the subjects immune system weaker over the next few weeks. On the other hand, the regular, softer exercise program enhanced the white cell activity and boosted the immune system with good levels of reactive oxygen species available to tackle those nasty viruses.

The message is don’t wait for your new year resolution to start, start a steady exercise program now when it is still pleasant outside and be well.

  1. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0024385

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