Working Out, Can It Affect The Immune System?
3:50 PM PST - 11/28/2007
by: Terry Weyman, D.C., C.C.S.P.
Working out is supposed to make us stronger and healthier. Can too much exercise cause an adverse affect?
Have you ever heard of cyclists, marathoners, obsessive gym rats and other long endurance athletes always on the threshold of illness? Or they seem to be more susceptible to colds and flu viruses?
There is a correlation; according to the studies that have been done, experts have shown that there is an “immune window” after long duration exercise of an hour or more, where the immune system is actually depressed. Many components of the immune system (decreases in neutophil function, serum and salivary immunoglobulin concentrations and natural killer cell number) exhibit adverse change after prolonged, intense exertion. During this “open window” of impaired immunity (which may last 3-72 hours, depending on the immune measure), viruses and bacteria may gain a foothold, increasing the risk for sub clinical and clinical infection. Nutritional supplements, such as zinc, vitamin C, glutamine, and a carbohydrate replacement have been viewed as viable nutrients to help close this window of impaired immunity. Coupled with proper hydration, you can reduce the risk of any negative affects from your workout.
Remember, exercise is good, in moderation. If you want to go the “extra mile” then take the extra precautions and give your body what it needs to sustain a healthy system.