Different studies agree on the benefits of exercising regularly to favor the immune system and avoid infections, especially in the so-called risk groups.
It is known that regular physical activity brings countless benefits to people of any age and that, in return, sedentary lifestyle causes all kinds of disorders. However, in times of pandemic, carrying out a physical exercise routine becomes difficult, and at the same time, without a vaccine or scientifically proven preventions against COVID, the question arises as to whether physical exercise represents an advantage or not for the system immune when it comes to avoiding contagions. However, according to sports doctors, infectologists and physical education teachers, exercise seems to be a key tool that everyone should use.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, USA), “exercise has a profound impact on the normal functioning of the immune system. Regular exercise at moderate intensity has been shown to improve immune responses, decrease chronic inflammation, and improve various immune indicators in various diseases, including cancer, AIDS, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. And on the other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that social distancing and confinement may have a negative effect on immunity, as glucocorticoids such as cortisol are elevated during periods of isolation and confinement, and can inhibit many functions. criticism of our immune system. Therefore, it is vitally important that we try to keep our levels of physical activity within the recommended guidelines, since not only can there be a direct positive effect of exercise on the cells and molecules of the immune system, but it can also counteract the effects negative effects of isolation and confinement stress on various aspects of immunity ”.
“And although there is currently no scientific data on the effects of exercise on coronaviruses – adds the US report – there is evidence that exercise can protect people from many other viral infections, including influenza, rhinoviruses (causing the common cold) and viruses related to herpes. By staying active we are likely to boost our immune systems to help minimize the damaging effects of the virus, to improve our symptoms, to speed up our recovery, and to decrease the likelihood that we may infect others with whom we come in contact. “
During these days, also, two new studies, complementary and timely, about the relationship between exercise and vaccines were presented. Both investigations, in which the same group of runners, swimmers, wrestlers, cyclists and other elite athletes participated, suggest that intense training increases the response to a vaccine, a finding of special relevance at this time, when the researchers are already working in the final stages of developing a vaccine against COVID 19.
IN RISK GROUPS
While in our country the restrictions are gradually being released and these days it is possible to exercise outdoors, those who seem to reach the most limitations to exercise are the members of the so-called risk groups.
Regarding this, the Physical Education teacher, specialist in cardiovascular rehabilitation, Gabriela Tricerri, explains that “physical activity is something that we should all sustain all the time, especially coronary patients, even under social isolation. For this, it would be good to have a stationary bicycle at home, but even if there is not one, many very simple and basic exercises can be performed that are of low load and low intensity, since quarantine does not have to be static ”.
“For physical exercise,” he added, “incentives are always very important, and it happens to all of us that when we go to a gym it is more pleasant because the environment predisposes and because there are acquaintances with whom we share the practice, but for that you can also think alternatives. In this sense, social networks are very helpful because WhatsApp or Facebook groups are generated with people who share their experiences or encourage each other, or even recommend ways of exercising at home; all this is valid to sustain the commitment to physical activity ”.
Cardiologist Gabriel Lapman shares the same view when he maintains that “social isolation is an exceptional situation, and it is best that people with heart problems sustain some type of physical exercise at home, because sedentary lifestyle deteriorates many functions, and even in the smaller department you can do sit-ups, squats or, if you can, have a stationary bike or a treadmill ”.
“Cardiac patients, such as those with other chronic diseases,” Lapman added, “are part of the risk group for the COVID-19 pandemic, and that is why it is necessary to set short-term goals, to stay in contact with their environment through the multiple digital channels that we have today, and that they do not abandon physical activity, since otherwise it can cause depression, stress or anxiety, which affect the condition of patients with heart problems ”.
EXERCISES AND IMMUNITY
An American professor, Dr. Richard Simpson, Professor of Pediatrics and Immunology at the University of Arizona, recently offered a powerful answer about the benefits of physical activity on the immune system.
“Physical exercise,” he noted, “has a profound impact on the normal functioning of the immune system, and it has been shown that having higher cardiorespiratory fitness scores, adjusted for sex and age, and exercising regularly at moderate to vigorous intensity, they improve the immune response to vaccination, decrease chronic low-grade inflammation and improve various immune indicators in various diseases, including cancer, HIV, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cognitive limitations and obesity.
“Dynamic cardiorespiratory exercise involving the whole body,” he explained, “instantly mobilizes literally billions of immune cells, especially those types of cells capable of performing effector functions such as the recognition and elimination of virus-infected cells. The immune cells that are mobilized with exercise are activated and “fighting”, and their frequent recirculation between the blood and the tissues works in a way that increases immune vigilance, which, in theory, makes us more resistant to infections and It better equips us to deal with any infectious agents that have managed to establish themselves. For this reason it is vitally important that we try to keep our levels of physical activity within the recommended guidelines. Not only can there be a direct positive effect of exercise on the cells and molecules of the immune system; but also exercise can counteract the negative effects of isolation and confinement stress on various aspects of immunity ”.
“And while it is true that exercise might not prevent us from becoming infected if we are exposed,” he concluded, “it is likely that by staying active we boost our immune system to help minimize the harmful effects of the virus, to improve our symptoms, to speed up our recovery and to decrease the probability that we can infect other people.
On the other hand, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States prepared a document in which it addresses how physical exercise can protect from an infection by raising the defenses, and in that sense it maintained that “there are effects of social distancing and confinement On Immunity: Glucocorticoids like cortisol are elevated during periods of isolation and confinement and can inhibit many critical functions of our immune system. When we are stressed, the ability of our T cells to multiply in response to infectious agents is markedly reduced, so it is vitally important that our immune cells maintain the ability to redistribute themselves so that they can “patrol” vulnerable areas in our body (eg example, the upper part of the respiratory tract and lungs) to prevent viruses and other pathogens from finding a foothold for invasion, an important process to minimize the impact of the virus and accelerate viral resolution if we become infected ”.
Physical activity improves indicators in serious diseases such as AIDS and cancer
They also reported favorable responses in cases of diabetes, heart problems and obesity