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As we head into the cooler months, the flu season has kicked off with a vengeance. So how can you build a robust immune system to help ward off viruses?

You often hear us say, 'Movement is medicine, and movement is life' There is more to exercise than just getting fit or looking good. It is a vital part of life and our immune system.

What is the relationship between physical activity and our immune system?

Exercise gets the immune cells moving throughout the body during activity. It promotes a lasting presence of these immune cells for up to three hours after exercise, providing extra time for the immune cells to identify unwanted intruders, allowing them to do their job efficiently, and keeping you from getting sick. Highly specialized immune cells (natural killer cells and T cells) attack pathogens (like viruses) and wipe them out.

Another way to think of it, exercise is a housekeeping activity where it helps the immune system patrol the body and detect and evade bacteria and viruses. The more frequently a housekeeper cleans, the cleaner the house will look instead of cleaning once for the first time.

If exercise is seldom and sporadic, you cannot expect to have an illness-clearing immune system. Regular exercise prepares your immune system to wipe out viruses and germs.

I always train so hard, but I'm always getting sick.

Intensive exercise for long periods can put you in a stressful state, leading to immune system dysfunction. Studies have shown that training in the 90+% of your HRM for longer than 2 minutes can leave your immune system challenged; hence why we advocate for recovery periods to allow your immune system to do its job and not work too hard all the time. Think of this time as opening up all the doors and windows to your house, letting anyone enter, and then the cleaner has to come in and clean up the mess.

At Rella's, we encourage our members to use Heart Rate monitors during exercise to ensure they are not overtraining at intense levels for extended periods. Getting your Heart rate up to 90+% of your HRM is okay, but not for extended periods.

We also encourage our members to check their heart rate variability daily to see where their Autonomic nervous system is and whether they can handle high intensity before coming to the Hub or need to work at a lower rate.

A Heart rate monitor is a great tool to keep illness and injury at bay.

What is the ideal amount of exercise?

Studies have shown that 5 times a week of aerobic exercise can lower upper respiratory tract infections over 12 weeks by more than 40%.

At least 3 times a week minimum of 45 minutes of a good huff and puff, but still being able to talk is a good start. Just like housekeeping, it will all add up!

The bottom line is that consistent, moderate exercise will help boost the immune system by promoting immune cells' "housecleaning" circulation.

Movement is medicine, and movement is life.

Every 'BODY" deserves the chance to 'MOVE'.

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