5 Important Exercises To Help Maintain Immune Health | 1MD Nutrition™

5 Important Exercises To Help Maintain Immune Health

5 Doctor Recommended Exercises That Support Your Immune System

Meta Description: Research has shown the beneficial role exercise plays in immune function. With just 30 minutes a day, these 5 exercises can help support your immune system.

By Dr. Brian Greenberg

8 minute read

Last Updated December 6, 2021

5 Doctor Recommended Exercises That Support Your Immune System

Regular exercise is important for overall body health. Physical activity helps promote healthy circulation of oxygen and nutrients around the body to support overall health. This includes your immune system. Studies show that getting regular exercise can support immune cell activity

Immune cells circulate more rapidly with exercise, allowing them to detect microbes earlier, which can help reduce the risks of health problems associated with normal aging. With optimal circulation, the body is also able to flush waste and microbes from the lungs, to support healthy respiratory function and provide better protection from seasonal threats.  

In addition to this, staying active can support healthy energy levels throughout the day, reduce stress hormones, and promote better quality sleep. Getting a restful sleep each night reduces the levels of stress hormones in the body, which supports T-cell activity to promote healthy immune system responses. Exercise also briefly increases the body’s temperature, which has been shown to help the body fight infections. 

Exercises To Support Immune System Health

According to a 2019 review published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science, exercise mobilizes immune cells throughout the body, allowing them to protect against invading microbes more effectively. Exercise is also effective in reducing the risk of chronic health conditions associated with aberrant immune system responses. 

Aerobic exercise is a logical choice when it comes to supporting immunity and overall health, but there are benefits to resistance and strength training too. Maintaining healthy levels of muscle may strengthen immunity, so you want to include a balance of both aerobic and resistance to get the best support for your immunity and health. 

All you need is thirty minutes a day to help support immune system activity and overall health. These are the top 5 exercises to support your immune system.

1. Cycling

Cycling is a beneficial cardio activity that you can do outside or with a stationary bike. Studies have found that cycling can help reduce the risk of chronic health problems by supporting healthy circulation, muscle activity, metabolism, and immune system responses. 

It is believed that the immune system is rejuvenated with regular cycling, as the thymus, which makes immune cells called T-cells, normally starts to shrink from the age of 20. The overall health and, in particular, the size of the thymus in older adults that cycled regularly was found to be generating as many T-cells as those of young people.

An easy way to introduce cycling into your daily routine is to start commuting by bike instead of driving. If this is not feasible, then make time each day for a thirty-minute ride. By maintaining healthy levels of immune cells in the body, cycling can help support strong immune defenses to keep you healthy.

A woman briskly walking her dog

2. Walking

Just as with cycling, walking is an aerobic activity that increases the circulation of nutrients, oxygen, and immune cells around the body. The more you walk, the better your defenses will be. Compared to individuals who live a sedentary life, adults who regularly walk each day take fewer sick days and report fewer respiratory problems. 

Walking may be easier to incorporate into your daily routine than cycling, and you still only need thirty minutes a day. You can make small changes to your routine, such as parking further away to walk to a store, taking the stairs instead of the elevators, going for a walk after lunch or dinner, and using a treadmill while watching TV. 

Studies show that the number of immune cells increases after just five minutes of exercise, so with walking as part of your daily routine, you can support optimal immune defenses all day. 

3. Strength Training

In addition to a lack of aerobic activity, poor muscle health can contribute to poor immune health. Healthy muscle mass can support healthy immune system function. When providing defenses against foreign microbes, the immune system can become worn. Animal studies have shown that skeletal muscle supports immune cell activity, serving as a shelter for them to replenish their numbers. 

Additionally, when immune cells lose their steam during a response to chronic health conditions, precursor cells from the muscles can migrate and develop into functional immune cells for continued immune system response. Maintaining healthy muscle mass through strength training can help keep your immune system alert and active when needed. 

The best part about strength or resistance training is that you don’t need to go to a gym. Simple at-home exercises can be done each day to strengthen muscle mass, such as lunges, squats, push-ups, and planks. You can increase resistance by using dumbbell weights or resistance bands as you get stronger. 

4. Tai Chi

Practicing Tai Chi has been scientifically shown to support immune system function. The careful, meditative movements steady your breathing and work to promote healthy lymphatic system function. The lymphatic system produces immune cells that protect against foreign microbes, and the practice of Tai Chi helps maintain this protection. 

A study involving Tai Chi practitioners showed that this martial art stimulates immune cell activity. As part of ancient Chinese culture, Tai Chi has long been practiced for its benefits to both mind and body. As part of your daily routine, it can also help support immune system activity to strengthen your defenses against poor health. 

There are many Tai Chi classes, both online and in health centers, so you can learn and practice sitting and standing movements to incorporate into your day. Once you have the moves down, Tai Chi can be a low-impact part of your life. 

A woman rebounding on a mini trampoline

5. Rebounding

Rebounding is not always considered an exercise, but it is a physical activity that is fun and easy. It is also known to be beneficial for your immune health. Rebounding involves jumping around on a mini fitness trampoline. This low-impact activity is a great alternative for cycling and walking and can be done indoors and outdoors. 

The benefits of rebounding come from the jumping activity, which stimulates drainage of the lymphatic system. Bouncing promotes healthy cardiovascular and lymphatic circulation, allowing immune cells to travel more efficiently through the body for a stronger defense. More efficient lymph drainage also means that any collected microbes are more quickly removed from the body.  

With any exercise, it is important not to exert yourself as this can lead to fatigue. Fatigue leaves the body tired and your immune system at a disadvantage. Exhausted immune cells are not as effective in protecting your body, leaving you more vulnerable to illness. Take care not to overdo it when exercising, and if you are not feeling well, skip your daily activity until you are feeling better again. 

Support Immune Health From Within

In combination with a nutrient-rich diet and regular exercise, you can support immune system function with the carefully selected ingredients of ImmunityMD® and BreatheMDTM; two doctor-recommended formulas developed to promote healthy immune function. 

ImmunityMD® is a doctor-formulated combination of naturally-sourced ingredients such as L-lysine and zinc paired with a probiotic and prebiotic blend to support immune system function. As part of a daily routine that includes balanced nutrition and regular exercise, ImmunityMD® can help promote immune system strength and reduce the risk of occasional uncomfortable skin or mouth issues commonly associated with poor immune health.

BreatheMDTM combines South African Geranium with natural botanicals, vitamins, minerals, and amino acid to promote antioxidant activity, respiratory system performance, and immune system defenses. The function of every single cell involved in the body’s immune response system is supported, particularly as it relates to lung health, making BreatheMDTM a powerful solution for sustaining immune system health and fighting off seasonal threats.

1MD's ImmunityMD® box and bottle with ingredients

Final Thoughts

Regular exercise is a recommended component of any healthy lifestyle, and there is much research to support the beneficial role exercise plays in immune function and overall health. Your immune system is responsible for protecting you, so you want to support its activity as much as possible. Regular exercise combined with a healthy diet and the supportive ingredients in ImmunityMD® and BreatheMDTM will give your immune system the support it needs to keep you healthy and happy.

Dr. Brian Greenberg

Dr. Brian Greenberg is an immunologist, allergist, and pediatrician who received his medical degree from the University of Florida, and completed his residency and fellowship at UCLA. He has practiced medicine in Southern California for almost 25 years.