By Matt Evans
Exercise is a vital component in a healthy lifestyle. It keeps us fit and active well into old age, keeps us feeling happy and makes our muscles stronger.
However, there's an added benefit to exercise few of us really think about. In addition to a healthy diet, exercise is one of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy immune system, which is especially of import in the current climate.
- NEW: Have lockdown workouts given you back pain?
- PLUS: Why exercise and a healthy body lead to a healthy mind
Healthcare professionals across the Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW), NHS Wales’ body for healthcare training and development, and scientists at the University of Birmingham have created the Motivate2Move campaign, designed to educate the public on how exercise can help improve our resistance to cold and flu.
Considering we're about to enter flu season in the midst of a global health crisis, there's never been a better time to lace up your trainers.
Dr Sam Lucas at the University of Birmingham said: “We could be at the start of a series of long-term changes to our way of life, so it makes absolute sense to build in exercise routines and habits that will keep us healthier overall, and potentially reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms if we are infected.”
Research published on HEIW's website tells us exactly how this works. The researchers found increases in "cardiac output, blood flow and the release of stress hormones (e.g. adrenaline) during exercise result in immune cells with high functional capacity".
Essentially, as you exercise, your heart works faster, pumping blood around your body, and the chemical known as adrenaline is released. This is said to "activate" your immune system, priming it to patrol the body and do its job effectively.
At the same time, exercising also has an anti-inflammatory effect on your body, which helps induce an array of benefits to your immune system.
Over the long term, exercise has also been found to reduce the risk of an infectious cold or flu episode. The healthier you are, the less likely you are to get sick: and according to Dr Lucas, this could extend to coronavirus symptoms.
How to use Strava - plus is the fitness app any good?
Wondering how to use Strava? Allow us to break down the activity tracking and analysis app for you...
By Howard Calvert •
This man was bullied for being fat in high school, so he spent years getting ripped
Weight loss Queensland's Anthony Bayer overcame food addiction and a sedentary lifestyle to turn his health around
By Matt Evans •
"I will treasure this feeling forever": meet our Trainer of the Year!
Awards 47-year-old Emma Goodman-Horne was crowned Fit&Well's Trainer of the Year from a 70-strong longlist
By Stephanie Wood •
Fitbit Versa deals: Great offers on Fitbit's top multi-model smartwatch range
Deals Get Fitbit Versa 3, Versa 2 and Versa Lite – the ultimate fitness watch for style and features - at the best price
By Rob Clymo •
7 celebrity fitness secrets from over 50s: Barack Obama, Halle Berry & more
Fitness From Halle Berry to Barack Obama and Michelle Pfeiffer, steal the fitness secrets of celebrities
By Claire Fox •
How to get rid of aches, back pain and bad posture in 20 minutes a day
Fitness Simple stretching exercises are the best way to ditch bad posture and fix back pain, according to experts
By Matt Evans •
Best treadmill: The top indoor running machines for home gyms
Buying guide Our list of the best treadmills for you, from beginners to seasoned runners
By Lee Bell •
Best rowing machine: Top rowers to burn fat and tone your whole body
Buying Guide The best rowing machine offers both cardio and a full body workout, all in one machine
By Chris Smith •
Low-impact exercises: The best joint-friendly workouts for you
Fitness Joints hurting? These low-impact exercises allow you to workout without enduring the pain
By Lucy Gornall •
Best bicep workouts: How to tone your muscles and get bigger arms fast
Fitness Some of the best bicep workouts to net you a stronger, more defined set of guns
By Leon Poultney •