Exercise and sleep in immunity

Exercise and sleep are two parallels that may carry distinct roles in maintaining the body’s immunity. One involves working of the body and all its structures alike and the other lowers most of the body functions to basal rates, but a balanced and cyclical utilization of both exercise and sleep is vital for health.

  1. Exercise

Exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. The evidence to show a correlation between exercise and immunity is insufficient but exercise dose a few things that may help with the body’s immunity. Medline plus posits that:

  1. Physical activity may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways. This may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.
  2. Exercise is also known to cause changes in antibodies and white blood cells (WBCs) which are the body’s immune system cells that fight disease. When WBCs spread more rapidly, they detect illnesses earlier.
  3. Exercise may help slow down the release of stress hormones and some stress increases the chance of illnesses or slow recovery and response to medication.

Exercise helps decrease your chances of developing heart disease and also keeps bones healthy and strong.

Exercise may include gym practices, cycling, taking walks.

  1. Sleep

Sleep helps the immune system; research shows that sleep improves function of the T cells which fights off infection. Dr. Stoyan Dimitrov, a researcher at University of Tubingen says that T cells help fight against intracellular pathogens such as virus infected cells such as flu, HIV and herpes. “When body cells recognize virally infected cells, they activate integrin, a sticky type of protein, which then allows them to attach and kill infected cells.

A lack of sleep causes a rise in stress hormones that may interfere with the functioning of the T cells.  A minimum of eight hours of sleep is essential for improved health and wellbeing.

Research shows that during sleep, the body releases certain cytokines which increase with infection or inflammation. Sleep deprivation interferes with sleep which is detrimental to the body’s immune system.

Some guidelines to improve sleep behavior include:

  1. Maintaining regular bedtime and waking time
  2. Napping to reduce daytime fatigue not overdoing it to replace restful night sleep
  3. Cutting down energy foods, sugar sweetened beverages
  4. Maintaining confortable sleep environment

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