A physically fit body can better tolerate drugs and treatments that can sometimes have substantial side effects. As such, it’s important to consider exercise as part of your plan. We don’t know exactly how exercise increases your immunity to certain illnesses, but there are several theories. 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. Exercise can also help us feel better about ourselves, just by making us feel more energetic and healthier.
All aspects of health are connected—a bit of exercise can improve your physical health and have a positively impact the mental aspects of your illness. Developing an exercise plan and sticking with it is a is a key piece of your journey and a component of your plan that cannot be ignored.
Researchers and clinicians have long known that exercise has a positive impact on the immune system.