Our immune system is our defense system against external (or internal) agents. Everything we do or better, everything we expose ourselves to and the degree to which we do it, can affect our immune system in one way or another.
In this article We are going to explain the role that physical exercise can play when it comes to strengthening your immune system.
What should we understand by immune system?
The immune system is a set of mechanisms and structures that protect us against external and internal agents after identifying and eliminating them. This set of mechanisms and structures is made up of a large network of molecules and cells that extend throughout all the tissues of the body.
The response that comes from the immune system is carried out thanks to the action of several specialized cells and the substances they release.
The immune system never ceases its activity and is always in operation, especially in the blood, lungs, liver, bones, tonsils, lymph nodes, thymus, spleen, bone marrow and even intestine.
The role that physical exercise plays in the strength of the immune system
There is a great constant and uninterrupted interaction between the different regulatory systems of the body (neurological, endocrine and immune systems) and during physical exercise this becomes even more evident.
For example, catecholamines such as epinephrine and norepinephrine and growth hormone can act to mediate the acute effects of exercise on neutrophils and leukocytes, that is, cells that are responsible for eliminate microorganisms.
In parallel, cortisol would be secreted in response to physical stress and this would alter the processes of leukocyte infiltration (process by which leukocytes gain access to damaged tissues through blood vessels).
This implies two things. On the one hand, it would have anti-inflammatory effects, but on the other, these anti-inflammatory effects would be at the cost of temporary immunosuppression by inhibiting the function of B and T lymphocytes, which are important for producing antibodies and attacking foreign agents.
We could say that in the short term, physical exercise, especially if it is strenuous, can cause a decrease in our defenses. Nevertheless, In the long term, our immune system would be able to strengthen itself if we regularly expose it to this type of physical stress.
As we said, These responses to physical exercise decrease with regular training as our body adapts to it. In the long term, the release of catecholamines will be more moderate.
It must also be said that the function of neutrophils improves in response to exercise, both in trained and untrained people. However, this effect is more significant in untrained people, which is logical since they have more room for improvement.
Thus, although physical exercise can cause a drop in defenses, this is temporary. In the long term, our immune system will appreciate the practice of regular physical exercise.
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