Does Working Out Help Immune System?

Exercising has a positive effect on the overall well-being of a person, accelerates metabolism, and enhances immunity. But what are the cases when sport can harm and does actually working out help immune system?

Does Working Out Help the Immune System?

Moderate physical activity stimulates the physiological processes in the human body that positively affect well-being, immunity, mental performance, mood. This occurs due to the activation of the central nervous system, increased blood circulation, oxygen metabolism. Let’s highlight the most beneficial effects of exercise on the immune system:

  • Sports activities have a positive effect on the local immunity of the mucous membrane of the respiratory epithelium. The ability of the ciliated epithelium to self-cleanse and remove the mucous secretion from the bronchi is improved, and infection in the lower respiratory tract is prevented;
  • Working out brings increased blood circulation and pulse pressure. Adequate physical activity activates NK cells. It all increases the number of macrophages responsible for nonspecific immunity. Therefore, the likelihood of contracting a respiratory infection with systematic exercising is reduced;
  • Local cellular and humoral immunity can be improved by moderate exercise in people of all age categories, even with chronic lung diseases (chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma). 

When exercising, the body increases the speed of blood flow and lymphatic drainage which accelerates the speed of immune reactions.

Can Exercise Lower the Immune System?

The simplified mechanism of how immune system work is to look at the immune cells called T1 helpers. They are activated after the virus enters the body. These T1 helpers cause inflammation and other changes in the body, representing the first line of defense against the virus.

However, if the initially useful inflammatory reaction lasts long enough, it ceases to be manageable and becomes a source of problems for the body. In this case, the immune system needs to slightly reduce the number of T1 helpers. The immune system will reduce the number of T1 cells with the help of other immune cells called T2 helpers. T2 cells lead to the formation of an anti-inflammatory response.

T2 helpers are water that puts out a fire in the body caused by T1 helpers. However, the body must clearly tune and maintain a balance between T2 and T1 helpers.

Nevertheless, you need to soberly assess your condition. If you feel that you are not well, it is recommended to stop exercising until you recover.

It is normal to work out with a little cold and very often the condition can even improve after a workout. It is definitely necessary to avoid hard training even with a little cold. So It can lead to an imbalance of T1 and T2 cells and a violation of an adequate immune response.

For example, cardio and immune system work fine together if you work out in your heart rate zone. Use the following formulas to find your best heart rate zone:

  • MinHH=(220 – Your Age) x 0.6;
  • MaxHH=(220 – Your Age) x 0.85.

Ways to Improve the Immune System

Exercises boost immune system, but it is necessary to give the body three very important components, without which fitness can do harm:

  • saturate the nutrition with carbohydrates and vitamins, which allow cells to recover faster;
  • consume at least 30-35 ml of water per 1 kg of weight to maintain water balance. If the body does not have enough water, then this leads to a deterioration in the work of all organs and drying out of the mucous membranes;
  • sleep for at least 8-9 hours after training sessions. Good sleep is the key to an excellent mood and high-quality muscle recovery.

Give your body these three basic components and your immunity will increase massively along with regular workouts.


Therefore, if you work out with enough resting time, it can enhance immunity and reduce the duration and severity of symptoms of a viral infection. Physical activity and immune system are classy tandem. It requires proper nutrition, good sleep, and a training plan suitable for your age and individual characteristics of the body.

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