How exercise strengthens immunity

Exercising in moderation on a regular basis strengthens immunity in multiple ways

Young woman exercising in a gym | exercise strengthens immunity

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that refuses to go away even after a year, our body’s immune system has gained more importance than ever. Immunity, in simple terms, is the body’s ability to protect itself from illnesses. While you are probably familiar with immunity-boosting solutions that involve diet and nutrition, you might not know that exercising in moderation on a regular basis strengthens immunity in multiple ways.

How exercise strengthens immunity

Exercise improves blood circulation

Exercise not only improves blood circulation but also promotes the white blood cells to circulate at a quicker rate. Exercise slightly raises the body temperature temporarily which helps to destroy the disease-producing bacteria and viruses.

Exercise helps to detoxify your system

Once you start exercising, it increases your waste output through sweat and urine. Exercise also improves bowel movements which flush out harmful toxins from the body.

Exercise helps to deal better with stress

Prolonged stress suppresses your immune system making you prone to repeated illness and infections. Exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones, which help you deal better with stress, thus giving your immunity a big boost. So the next time you feel weighed down by worries, take a walk and feel the change in your ability to deal with things.

Exercise improves digestion

Just eating the right kind of food is not enough. Your body should be able to successfully assimilate the nutrients and put them to use as well. Once you start working out, no matter what type of exercise you practise, the intake of nutrients by your system improves which in turn makes your immune system stronger.

Cardiovascular exercise

Cardio exercises comprise walking, jogging, running, aerobic dancing, cycling, swimming and certain stop-start sports like tennis and squash. If you are someone who is constantly troubled by colds or any other minor respiratory ailments, you will be surprised that just by taking a brisk 30-minute walk daily you can bid goodbye to most of your minor ailments. Cardiovascular exercise like walking and swimming can particularly benefit people suffering from asthma as it helps to improve lung efficiency.

Weight training

Weight training enhances your metabolism and improves digestion, which is necessary for the functioning of a healthy immune system. The term weight training does not necessarily mean doing strenuous weight lifting. Lifting light to moderately heavy weights for just 20-30 minutes a week can actually rid you of several minor aches and pains by strengthening your bones, muscles and joints. It also prevents or delays the onset of conditions like osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, back pain, knee pain and joint pain. However, try your hand at weights only under professional guidance.

Exercising safely during COVID-19 pandemic

Now that you know that exercise strengthens immunity, you may plan to hit the gym soon. But you need to be extra careful during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few tips to make your workouts more efficient and keep yourself immune from germs and other gym bugs.

Keep yourself clean

Hygiene and cleanliness is your best defense against infection-causing microbes like the coronavirus.

Avoid touching your face

Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs from various surfaces at the gym are transmitted to your hands and then to your face.

Carry your own toiletries

Carry your own stuff like your towels, soaps, water-bottles and other common things you need before, during or after workout.

Minimise the use of “shared items”

Remember that gyms equipment are used by numerous people throughout the day. Hence, it is important to have a bath after your workout.

Get adequate rest

Working out without adequate rest is counterproductive. Rest necessary for muscles to repair, rebuild and strengthen.

Eat healthy

Include 85 per cent whole grains, whole fresh foods like fruits and vegetables in their natural form daily. Eat protein-rich food as proteins help in enhancing immunity levels.

Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water not only cleanses your body, but also has a pivotal role in boosting immunity.

Stay away from caffeine and alcohol

These beverages not only dehydrate you, but also make you susceptible to health complications.

Get enough sleep

Sleep boosts your body’s immune response. During sleep, your body’s immune system goes into high gear protecting you from illness. Lack of sleep can reduce immune functioning making you susceptible to sickness.

Listen to your body

If you think you need rest, take it. Working out when you are tired does you more harm than good.

These simple tips will help you stay healthy and fit in the most efficient way.


Until the pandemic is declared to be over, always wear a face mask when stepping out. Maintain a distance of six feet while interacting with office colleagues, associates and others. Wash your hands with soap and water frequently. Use a hand-sanitizer when outdoors.

If you have COVID-19 or suspect that you do, but have mild symptoms, including mild fever, cough or sore throat, you should self-quarantine right away. Those with more serious symptoms, such as high fever, chills, weakness, lethargy or shortness of breath and headaches should seek medical care immediately. It is imperative that you seek medical attention if the symptoms persist or worsen beyond 7 to 10 days.

This is an update version of an article that originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Complete Wellbeing magazine

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Samreedhi Goel
Samreedhi Goel is a Nutritionist and Personal trainer & fitness columnist who has been a part of the fitness industry since 1999. She has helped hundreds of people shape up, lose weight, achieve the body of their dreams, become fitter and healthier individuals and overcome chronic health problems through her fitness studio Size Wise.Her fitness columns and interviews appear on a regular basis in prestigious publications like Complete Wellbeing, Sunday Midday,, Seventeen India, Mumbai Mirror, Spice Route, The Hindu, Emirates Evening Post (Dubai) and Savvy to name a few.


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