Status: 20.11.2023, 21:28 PM
By: Lennart Schwenck
Are people who exercise a lot more susceptible to respiratory diseases? Intense exercise could affect the immune system.
Washington – There's bad news for fitness enthusiasts and sports lovers this winter: Hard exercise could impair or even weaken the immune system. At least that's what a study suggests, in which firefighters were examined after intense physical exertion.
To do this, the eleven study participants had to lug almost 45 kilograms (20 pounds) of equipment through the terrain for 44 minutes. After that, researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) examined their blood plasma, saliva, and urine.
The Paradox of Fitness: Effects of Intense Exercise on the Immune System
The finding suggests that "very fit people may be more susceptible to viral respiratory infections immediately after a strenuous workout." Study leader Ernesto Nakayasu of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) explains that lower inflammatory activity could be the cause of the body's inability to fight infections effectively.
While there is clear evidence that moderate physical activity can boost the immune system in the long term, the immune system's immediate response to intense physical exercise remains controversial.
If you have a cough, it is better to avoid exercising. (Symbolic image) © Imago
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The researchers discovered a decrease in the molecules that actively counteract inflammation and an increase in opiorphin, a pain-relieving endorphin. The effects of these changes on short-term immune system function are still unclear, but researchers speculate that opiorphin secreted could improve muscle circulation during exercise.
The study emphasizes the positive effects of physical activity on health, but it also noted possible signs of immune suppression in trained firefighters. Further investigations and studies are intended to deepen these results. (ls)