Maintaining Immunity – The Role of Regular Physical Activity and Other Factors


Regular physical activity is a dominant factor for enhancing immunity. The role of exercises in boosting immunity and maintaining health and wellbeing has been investigated and reported in many studies. This is particularly important in the current epidemiological environment with the SARS-Cov-2 virus being on the mind of most people.

There is currently consensus in the scientific literature that the state of our immune system is an important factor in how susceptible an individual will be to COVID-19, how the disease will progress if the person gets it as well as what kind of outcome that individual will have (1).

Regular physical activity, correct diet, including abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, adequate sun exposure and proper hygiene are the main and the most efficient preventive measures. They work in harmony and synergise the effect of each other. How does physical exercise, in particular, help to strengthen our immune system and fight off infections?

1. Regulating the inflammatory responses and stress hormones.

2. Increasing the levels of cells that are part of the immune system (lymphocytes, NK cells, immature B cells and monocytes) in response to the pathogen.

3. Muscle contraction, in particular, activates cardiorespiratory function, helps to increase the levels of some interleukins such as IL-6, IL-10 and other anti inflammatory mediators hence promoting the resistance to infections.

A few different studies have also suggested that regular physical exercise is directly linked to decreased mortality from pneumonia and influenza as well as an improvement in the cardiorespiratory function and vaccine response (2, 3).

This means that maintaining your exercise routine in line with other abovementioned prophylactic measures should become your goal to enhance your own defensive mechanisms and protect your health and wellbeing in the current situation.

An article entitled Physical exercise as a tool to help the immune system against COVID-19: an integrative review of the current literature was published in July 2020. We have summarised the important points from that article in this newsletter. A copy of the article can be found here: