The immune system plays a fundamental role in our quest to stay healthy and enjoy a good quality of life. Basically this is our bodies’ main defender against bacteria, viruses, infections and dangerous cell changes.
Because it’s so important to our health, we need to make sure we have a strong immune system. How do we do that? Well, there are numerous ways to strengthen your immunity. Eat a healthy, balanced diet to prevent weight gain, get the necessary amount of sleep, drink alcohol in moderation, reduce stress, wash your hands frequently and, of course, exercise. Exercising in general and walking in particular can really make a difference. Keep on reading to see how.
How Does Walking Affect the Immune System
It’s a well known fact that walking is one of the most beneficial workouts. In addition to being easy to do and easy on the joints, this type of aerobic exercise can aid you improve your health in multiple ways, including boosting our immunity.
How can a simple stroll make your immune system stronger, you may ask. Well, there are numerous ways. During a walk your body releases a series of antibodies and natural killer cells, cells which ensure protection against tumors, infections and viruses. Walking also helps improve blood circulation, which in turn increases the flow of leucocytes, the white blood cells that fight off infections.
At the same time, going for a stroll can reduce inflammation in the body and also relieve stress by releasing endorphins, the so-called “feel-good” hormones. In addition to your mood, walking can improve your sleep. Not getting enough rest during the night can have many negative effects, including a weakened immune system.
The Scientific Proof
Walking is one of the best exercises to boost immunity. And there are scientific studies to back this up.
Professors from the Appalachian State University in North Carolina analyzed the direct relationship between exercise and the immune function. According to their scientific review, published in the Journal of Sport and Health Science, a moderate-to-vigorous intensity workout like walking can have a considerable impact on your immunity. More precisely, a 30 to 45-minute brisk walk a day, five days a week, can decrease inflammation and the risk of illness and enhance your immunity. In contrast, scientists discovered that constant high-intensity training can weaken the immune system.
An earlier study carried out by professors from the same Appalachian State University examined the link between upper respiratory tract infection (this can include the common cold, laryngitis or sinusitis) and physical activity. The program followed over 1.000 adults for a period of 12 weeks during the fall and winter seasons. According to the results, participants who walked at least 20 minutes a day, five days a week or more, had
43% fewer sick days in comparison to those who walked only one day a week or less. Even if they got sick, those who were more physically active manifested reduced severity and symptomatology.
The relationship between upper respiratory tract infection and physical activity was also analyzed by Swedish researchers. At the end of their study, scientists from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm reached the same conclusion: a higher level of physical activity is linked to a lower risk of infection in the case of both men and women. Another research concluded that an endurance exercise like walking generates anti-inflammatory effects and improves immune function in elderly people.
Track How Much You Walk
Keeping track of your walking activity can be truly beneficial. In addition to providing relevant fitness data, this is an opportunity to demonstrate your own accountability. Once you set a certain goal, you focus all your energy on reaching that goal. Tracking your progress can also offer the necessary motivation to keep on going and stay active when you might feel tempted to skip your workout session.
In order to track your walks all you need is a pedometer app like our very own ActivityTracker. The app records automatically your activity and provides useful info regarding your step count, the distance walked, the calories burned or the active time. You can set a personal weekly target for the fitness metric that’s most relevant to your needs and remain updated at all times with the progress made. You can see your physical activity for each hour, day, week and month and also share your daily stats with friends and family.
You need to exercise to boost your immune system. There’s no question about it. Being physically active improves the circulation of immune cells and gives your body the energy and power to fight off various illnesses and infections. As research has proven it, walking is a great exercise to enhance immune function and stay healthy. Just make sure you maintain a brisk pace and work out at least five days a week to reap the benefits.