How Exercise Effects Our Immune Function

McKinney Chiropractor Best Practices

Research Commentary;

Exercise for Healthy Immune Function!

Exercise for Healthy Immune Function!

A review of

Nieman, D. & Wentz, L. (2019) The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defense system. Journal of Sport and Health Science 8: 201-217

Research Reviewed by Dr. Anthony Vasile

Summarized Review of Conclusion:

What this article is saying is that there is a balance when it comes to exercise as described and found with the J curve model. This simply means that too little exercise doesn’t do it, too much exercise doesn’t do it, but moderate exercise is where our bodies as humans experience the most beneficial effects from movement.

The study found when we get in the right zone of moderate exercise it stimulates our innate immune system to release immune cells and anti-inflammatory cells into our blood stream. The study also found that exercise slows down immunosenescence, which is the natural reduction of the immune system due to aging. Meeting the goal of this frequent moderate exercise was shown in these randomized controlled trials to have a 40%-50% reduction of upper respiratory tract infections (colds and flus).

Below I have referenced key quotes from this research to help summarize the results.


Quotes from the Article:

“The acute immune response to exercise depends on the intensity and duration of effort”

“Each bout of moderate physical activity promotes improved but transient immunosurveillance and, when repeated on a regular basis, confers multiple health benefits including decreased illness incidence and dampened systemic inflammation.”

“Stress hormones, which can suppress immune cell function, and proinflammatory cytokines, indicative of intense metabolic activity, do not reach high levels during short duration, moderate exercise bouts.”

“The magnitude of reduction in URTI symptom days with near-daily moderate exercise in these randomized clinical trials (typically 40%-50%) exceeds levels reported for most medications and supplements “

“In general, exercise promotes the recirculation of key immune cells and mediates an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant state through multiple mechanisms.”

“Emergent data support that habitual exercise is capable of improving regulation of the immune system and delaying the onset of immunosenescence.”


Introduction to the Research

The purpose of this research was to investigate the relationship between physical movement and the impact that it has on our immune system.  During this time of COVID 19 it is abundantly clear that we need to achieve homeostasis and increase our baseline health.

Exercise is free and there is no supplement, drug or pill that will exercise for us. This research was intended to investigate the many benefits exercise does for the human body.

Research Methodology

This review summarized research discoveries within 4 areas of exercise immunology: acute and chronic effects of exercise on the immune system, clinical benefits of the exercise–immune relationship, nutritional influences on the immune response to exercise, and the exercise effect on immunosenescence.


Research Findings

A deficiency of physical activity is a leading cause if immune deficiency which decreases our ability to fight off colds such as rhinovirus, coronavirus, influenza and many more.

Sufficient physical activity is shown to improve our health by increasing the activation of our innate immune system and slows down the natural process of a decreasing immune system that comes naturally with aging to allow us to be able to fight off viruses and other illness more effectively.

This article is a great lesson on why we teach our patients how to move, how to eat and how to think better. There is no better way to achieve increased immunity and overall health than with everyday lifestyle decisions.

If everyone would exercise, manage stress, and supplement with the essential nutrients; COVID 19 and any other future viruses or disease will be much less likely to have such an impact on the world as we have seen this past year.

Take your life into your own hands to start making choices that will improve your baseline health. Keep your spine healthy by getting adjusted and make the lifestyle decisions that are backed by research to improve your life.

Research References


As always with these reviews, these are my takeaways from the article and I encourage you to read the article in its entirety.  The references used in this article by the authors of this article are listed here.

Our Message

We love digging into the research to find the best ways to treat our patients. Our Doctors at our McKinney location, located near the corner of Eldorado Pkwy. and Ridge Rd., know that choosing a Chiropractor is a big decision. That’s why we take the time to not only review the research ourselves, but share what we find with our patients to give the the best care and the best education o their pain and their health. When you are dealing with Low Back Pain, Neck Pain or Headaches, choose a Chiropractor you can trust.