MN Chiropractor | Health & Wellness
You know exercise is good for you — but do you know how good? From lowering your risk of obesity to increasing your energy levels and boosting your mood, the merits of regular physical activity are hard to ignore.
“There are 1,440 minutes in every day. Schedule 30 of them for physical activity.”
That’s the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, yet approximately 60% of all Americans fail to meet the “recommended dosage” of activity and exercise, and 25% don’t participate in any kind of physical activity at all.
Exercise has become particularly critical today, in light of the epidemic of obesity inflicting our population. But weight loss isn’t the only reason chiropractors and other wellness providers are encouraging their patients to increase their daily amount of exercise.
Studies have shown that exercise has a direct impact on a number of specific health conditions — including diabetes, some cancers and heart problems — but also that it can strengthen the immune system.
Exercise and Your Immune System
Did you know there are over 1 billion cases of the common cold in the United States each year? On average, adults tend to catch 2 to 4 cold per year, while children tend to catch up to 6 to 10 colds per year. With such prevalence, how can a person avoid catching a cold? Hand hygiene is a very popular technique. One study showed that by washing your hands 4 times per day, a person can decrease absences from school or work by 50%. But what about other techniques? Is there anything else out there?
There sure is……….. Exercise!
According to the National Institutes of Health, there are several theories as to why exercise boosts immune response:
- Physical activity may help by flushing bacteria out from the lungs (thus decreasing the chance of a cold, flu, or other airborne illness) and may flush out cancer-causing cells (carcinogens) by increasing output of wastes, such as urine and sweat.
- Exercise sends antibodies and white blood cells (the body’s defense cells) through the body at a quicker rate. As these antibodies or white blood cells circulate more rapidly, they could detect illnesses earlier than they might normally. The increased rate of circulating blood may also trigger the release of hormones that “warn” immune cells of intruding bacteria or viruses.
- The temporary rise in body temperature may prevent bacterial growth, allowing the body to fight the infection more effectively. (This is similar to what happens when the body has a fever.)
- Exercise slows down the release of stress-related hormones. Stress increases the chance of illness.
Don’t Over Do It!
Too much exercise can actually DECREASE the amount of white blood cells circulating throughout your body and INCREASE the presence of stress related hormones making your body more susceptible to cold and flu. Did you know? 90 minutes of high-intensity endurance exercise can make athletes susceptible to illness for up to 72 hours after the exercise session.
Should You Exercise When You’re Sick?
This depends on your symptoms. RULE OF THUMB: If your symptoms are ABOVE the neck (nasal congestion, sore throat, etc.) proceed with your workout. If your symptoms are BELOW the neck (chest congestion, upset stomach, etc.) postpone your workout. Exercise can relieve congestion.
Remember To Listen To Your Body!!!
If symptoms get worse with physical activity… STOP exercising.
While everyone is encouraged to make physical exercise a part of their daily routine, most people could benefit from chiropractic guidance before undertaking an exercise regime.
Frequently, without proper training, people will engage in the wrong kind of exercise or too vigorous a workout program in the hopes of improving their health or increasing the immunity benefits. Yet, heavy, long-term exercise (such as marathon running and intense gym training) could actually decrease the amount of white blood cells circulating through the body and increase the presence of stress-related hormones.
Studies have shown that the people who benefit most from starting (and sticking to) an exercise program are those who go from a sedentary (“couch potato”) lifestyle to a moderately energetic lifestyle. Chiropractors are in the ideal position to help them set up an exercise program best suited to their needs and physical condition.
In addition, chiropractors can help patients overcome one of the primary obstacles to exercise and activity: pain. When people are in pain, they’re far less likely to begin or stay with a program of activity even if doing so might be beneficial in the long run. By combining chiropractic care with exercise and rehabilitation training, doctors can assist patients to manage their systems while their bodies are restored to health.