With gyms closed and people limited to their homes for anything other than essentials, exercise has been moved to the indoors. A growing number of people have moved to cycling, running and indoor workouts to stay fit and entertained during the quarantine. Regular physical activity can not only improve your mood but also provide a boost to the body’s ability to fight viruses and infections.
But experts are warning against overdoing exercise as it could leave you open to injury and affect your immune system. While people find themselves being more active since they have more time on their hands, it’s important to keep in mind to not over overboard. Dr. Matthew Jackson, a lecturer in Sport and Health Science at Liverpool Hope University explains the urgency of the matter,
“The science behind exercise and immunity involves the complex interaction of a number of different cells, including immunoglobulins, also known as antibodies, which can help identify an infection-causing pathogen like a virus, alongside other more specific cells known as white blood cells or lymphocytes, which engulf and destroy the foreign cells in the body. Your expression of these cells – produced in the bone marrow – is improved through exercise. It’s essentially like a muscle – the more you work it the more efficient it becomes. But prolonged bouts of vigorous aerobic activity could actually lead to immunosuppression, as these cells are redistributed and diverted to key tissues and organs active during exercise, rather than elsewhere in the body.”
Dr. Jackson advises no more than an hour per exercise session. While it’s good to remain active during this social shut down, it’s not worth it to go beyond the recommended amount to risk compromising the immune system, especially at the same time when you’re potentially coming into contact with others who may be carrying COVID-19.
Regarding injury prevention though, he encourages lower intensity, moderate exercise; something more vigorous could lead to exposure to injury. If you’re just starting out with physical activity, then start slow and then move up from there. With low-level activity, it can be done more often, five or six days a week but it’s vital to factor in at least one rest day. A higher-level activity can be done three times a week with sessions of 30-45 minutes and then gradually increase over time.