Being a fitness buff certainly has a lot of advantages, but how much is too much when it comes to exercise? Are we better off with a brisk walk in the morning or a heavy workout at the gym? According to a new study presented at the recent Association for Science Education Conference, overdoing it when it comes to exercise increases your chances of getting a respiratory infection.
Exercising moderately, as it turns out, strengthens our immune system, which then fights against various upper respiratory tract infections. This reduces the chances of getting infected by up to a third. Strenuous exercise, on the other hand, makes us more vulnerable to them. Apparently, it multiplies our chances of getting sick two to six times.
It sounds strange that too much exercise can actually make us more likely to get the common cold, but Professor Mike Gleeson from Loughborough University discovered the root of the problem: a certain group of immune cells called Natural Killer cells, which identify viral-infected cells and get them to kill themselves. According to the study, moderate exercise boosts NK cell activity. However, too much exercise causes stress, and since NK cells are regulated by stress hormones and other cells, they aren’t able to do their job as a result.
This doesn't mean, however, that we should all stop exercising completely. When we become couch potatoes, we are still likely to get infected on an average of twice or thrice a year. Find a balance that works for you! If you work out for consecutive hours, have a little rest in between and give yourself a chance to catch your breath.
Doing too much of anything is bad, but you can still keep fit without worrying about whether you're doing it right. Check out these articles for fun ideas:
(Photo by Ernst Moeksis via Flickr Creative Commons)