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Working Out and Your Immune System

Keep Your Immune System Fit

Can working out make your immune system stronger and stay healthy? You bet!

Regular exercise is a key component of healthy living. And it has direct benefits for your immune system. Get Some Aerobic Exercise Anything that boosts your heart rate—such as biking or brisk walking—gets your blood pumping and oxygen flowing to your internal organs. Here’s how exercise can help keep your immune system in peak condition:

• Promotes good circulation. This allows white blood cells and other substances to move freely through your body and is believed to trigger the release of hormones that alert immune cells to intruding pathogens.

• Encourages healthy, restorative sleep. Little or poor sleep is associated with lower immune system function and reduced numbers of protective killer cells.

• Builds strength and resistance as part of overall good health

• Lowers risk of infection. Studies show that people who exercise take fewer sick days and have fewer and less severe upper respiratory tract infections. In research conducted at Appalachian State University, people who walked briskly for 45 minutes, five days a week over 12 to 15 weeks reduced their number of sick days 25% to 50% compared with those who were sedentary.

• Flushes bacteria from lungs

• May prevent bacterial growth by temporarily elevating body temperature

• Slows down the release of stress-related hormones


Find Something You’ll Stick To

One secret to overall fitness is simple: make it a habit. The American Heart Association and other experts recommend 30 minutes a day, five days a week. • Set a routine. Aim for the same time of day—such as first thing in the morning—so working out becomes second nature. 

• Don’t stay out of the cold. Your body works harder when it has to warm up 

• Know yourself. Social? Try a spin or dance class. Or, if you prefer setting your own pace, consider a sport such as running where you can beat your personal best. 

• Get a buddy. It’s easier to stay motivated when someone else is counting on you. Even better, walk your dog. It’s great for both of you! 

• Reward small goals. Treat yourself to new headphones or sneakers when you reach a milestone. 

• Sneak in extra exercise. Take the stairs instead of the elevator; park further from your destination; and get up to stretch and walk around frequently if your day is mostly sedentary.

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