May 6, 2018

Exercise Helps Boost Your Immune System! Here’s How

by Abby LeBlanc, Exercise Science Graduate Assistant


Exercise positively influences our natural immune system through the circulation of neutrophils, cytokines, and natural killer cells, all which have critical roles in regulating the “front line” of our body’s immune defenses. Each bout of exercise will suppress stress hormones known to suppress immunity, as well as pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines. The immune system will return to pre-exercise levels within a few hours after exercise, but each exercise session helps to boost immunity.

Another positive effect exercise has on the body is improving the body’s antibody response to the influenza vaccine. As always, exercise should be combined with other positive lifestyle habits, such as good nutrition, proper hydration, adequate sleep, minimizing stress, and staying clean. During stressful times, such as final exams or the holiday season, exercise can be hard to squeeze in. However, there are still ways to stay active while still getting everything done. It is still recommended to stick to your exercise regimen, but if you are extremely busy and “under the gun”, try some of these ideas.

  • Break up your studying or work commitments with brief walks.
  • Try to get in 10 minutes of activity when you first wake up in the morning.
  • Set a goal and commit to it. Track your steps or use an activity monitor.
  • Spend some of your leisure time you may have being active rather than laying on the couch. You may find that you are less tired as a result.
  • Stay hydrated and well-nourished throughout the day—avoid sugary snacks and drinks.
  • Look for some fun opportunities for physical activity—perhaps with a friend.


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