Can Exercise Boost your Immunity?

Exercise Immunology Ponsonby Physio
Exercise Immunology – what is it?!

Within a time where health and illness have been such a prominent part of our lives, and at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it is even more important to keep our immune system as strong as possible. The latest research in the field of exercise immunology is super interesting and very relevant to us all.

So what is ‘exercise immunology’? Well, formally it’s defined as the ‘Field of study on the interactions of physical, environmental, and psychological factors on immune function’. Basically the effect of factors like exercise, stress, and diet on our immune system. And can exercise boost your immunity? The answer is yes. The immune system is actually very responsive to exercise. Exercise has been proven to be capable of improving regulation of the immune system and enhancing immune defence activity and metabolic health.

Major findings in Exercise Immunology

Some of the key exercise immunology discoveries made in the last few years provide insight on how the amount, intensity and frequency of exercise affect us.

Acute exercise, which is defined as moderate-to-vigorous intensity for less than 60 minutes, is now viewed as an important immune system adjuvant. This level of exercise stimulates the ongoing exchange of highly active immune cells between the circulation and tissues. For each exercise bout improves the antipathogen activity of tissue macrophages, immunoglobulins, anti-inflammatory cytokines, neutrophils, NK cells, cytotoxic T cells, and immature B cells. With near daily exercise, these acute changes operate through a summation effect to enhance immune defence activity and metabolic health.

Interestingly, in contrast to this, research has also shown high exercise training such as competition events, and the associated physiological, metabolic, and psychological stress that are linked with these, actually create the opposite affect and distress your immune system, increase systemic inflammation, oxidative stress, and muscle damage, and therefore increase illness risk. So the amount of exercise and level or load of exercise you are doing is important to note when regarding your immune system health.

Studies are also suggesting that regular physical activity is associated with decreased mortality, and decreased incidence rates for influenza and pneumonia. This is because regular exercise training also has an overall anti-inflammatory influence mediated through multiple pathways. The evidence suggests that the circulation surge in cells of the immune system with each exercise bout, and the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect of exercise training, have a summation effect over time in modulating chronic disease processes.

So putting it simply, doing regular exercise – almost daily bouts of 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise – has been proven to strengthen your immune system’s function. As well as the already well-known benefits on your mental health by decreasing depression and anxiety related conditions and stress.


If you have an injury that is hindering your ability to move, are in pain or discomfort, or you are needing some advice on how to start moving in a safe and effective way for you, then contact our team at Ponsonby Physio. Our physios are experts in movement strategies and are passionate about helping you, and sharing our combined knowledge to get you moving again.


Reference to: The compelling link between physical activity and the body’s defence system. Author links open overlay panel. David C.Niemana Laurel M.Wentzb


Patient Portal

Please log in to access your programme prescribed for you by your physiotherapist.