Obesity and COVID-19: How Exercise Increases Immunity

By Dr. Bill Booker, DC, and Dr. Denia Tapscott, MD

Don’t forget our Boost Your Immunity webinar on Thursday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m. Click on this registration link to join us!

Someone sitting down to tie sneakersIt should come as no surprise to you that the practitioners at Capitol Rehab of Arlington would leave EXERCISE as the finale for our Immunity Minute series, but we can’t stress enough how essential exercise is in boosting your immunity.

We’ve all heard that underlying or pre-existing conditions like respiratory concerns, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes are tied to the COVID-19 virus. But the more doctors and scientists learn about the COVID-19 virus, the more they are seeing a relationship between obesity and an increased mortality rate for people who contract the virus.

Social distancing and wearing masks will take us so far in protecting ourselves from virus. The ongoing battle our country has faced for decades: The direct tie between obesity and heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and diabetes. Now add to that COVID-19.

So there you have it. Your life may literally depend on getting active and personally investing in not becoming a part of the obesity epidemic in this country.

We hope this is highly motivating. And it means only one thing: GET ACTIVE!

Here’s the good news — the best kind of exercise is the one you’re willing to do! That’s right, it almost doesn’t matter what exercise you do as long as you do something. Walking, yoga, pilates, bike riding, rock climbing — do what suits you and reap huge benefits.

Of course, you’re probably asking: how does moderate exercise benefit the immune system?

Exercise boosts the cardiovascular system, increasing circulation. Increased circulation makes it easier for your body to transport oxygen and other vital nutrients to the cells of the body and to flush out the bad stuff from the body.
Exercise stimulates the lymphatic system. The lymph system doesn’t have its own “pumping system” so it relies on the cardiovascular system and physical movement to move through the body and remove waste.
Increased blood and lymph flow makes it easier for cells to protect you from infection as well as to track down and kill the dangerous viruses and pathogens already in the body.

IMPORTANT EXERCISE NOTE: You only need moderate exercise to receive the immunity boosting benefits. Excessive exercise, usually defined as greater than 90 minutes of rigorous exercise — for instance, training for a marathon — can increase the incident of upper respiratory infections. This isn’t relevant for most of us but competitive athletes must be aware of this.

So after a week of immunity-boosting tips, you’ve learned what Americans have known for the last 50 years: Eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and take your vitamins! These are all important contributors to being as healthy as possible in the face of viral threats.

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