Exercise and Covid 19
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How does exercise affect you and COVID-19 ?
Each bout of exercise, particularly whole-body dynamic cardiorespiratory exercise, instantaneously mobilizes literally billions of immune cells, especially those cell types that are capable of carrying out effector functions such as the recognition and killing of virus-infected cells.
The mobilized cells firstly enter the blood compartment from marginated vascular pools, the spleen and the bone marrow before trafficking to secondary lymphoid organs and tissues, particular to the lungs and the gut where increased immune defense may be required.
The immune cells that are mobilized with exercise are primed and ‘looking for a fight.’
Their frequent recirculation between the blood and tissues functions to increase host immune surveillance, which, in theory, makes us more resistant to infection and better equipped to deal with any infectious agent that has gained a foothold.
Exercise also releases various proteins that can help maintain immunity, particularly muscle-derived cytokines such as IL-6, IL-7 and IL-15. The cytokine IL-6 has been shown to ‘direct’ immune cell trafficking toward areas of infection, while IL-7 can promote the production of new T-cells from the thymus and IL-15 helps to maintain the peripheral T-cell and NK-cell compartments, all of which work in concert to increase our resistance to infection.
Exercise is especially beneficial for older adults who are more susceptible to infection in general and have also been identified as a particularly vulnerable population during this COVID-19 outbreak.