Physical activity is a factor that can have beneficial effects on health and also on senescence.
There are many preclinical and clinical studies on the influence of physical exercise on immune function. The results available so far show contradictions, depending on the type of exercise, the immune function studied and the state of the individual. However, it is accepted that acute or very intense exercise induces an inflammatory reaction accompanied by the activation or inhibition of the functions of certain immunocompetent cells (Table 1), while moderate exercise allows the adaptation of the immune system and improves its functions. Therefore, physical activity should not be vigorous to have beneficial effects on health and especially on the immune system,
It is accepted that strenuous physical exercise can cause oxidative stress by increasing the consumption of molecular oxygen in respiration and can generate large amounts of free oxygen radicals (ROS). Vigorous exercise is considered to be accompanied by the involvement of immune cells, especially phagocytic cells, through the generation of oxidants due to the activation of factors such as NF-kB. Consequently, an overstimulation of the innate immune response could be detrimental in individuals with a high inflammatory state.
On the contrary, in response to repetitive and gradual exercise, oxidative stress decreases and resistance to oxidative damage increases (Figure 1, 2, 3). This fact could be due to the fact that exercise induces changes in antioxidant enzymes not only in skeletal muscle, which is the main source of free radicals, but also in other tissues and cells. In fact, although there are some discrepancies according to species, tissues, cell type, age of the animal and training regimen, in general it has been observed that with moderate exercise training an increase in antioxidant defenses appears . Specifically, it has been observed that regular exercise involves changes in phagocytic cells, negatively regulating ROS release and positively regulating antioxidant mechanisms.
"Physical activity influences immune functionality. Moderate, repetitive and gradual exercise seems to increase antioxidant defenses, while intense or strenuous exercise generates a large amount of oxidant compounds and activates inflammation" (Castell M & Pérez FJ, 2014) .
1. Physical Exercise and Immunosenescence
The effect of physical exercise on senescence and its immune function has been the subject of few studies, but even so, the available data show that moderate exercise improves immune function in old age.
Regular exercise has been experimentally shown to improve immune functions and the experimental effects are greater in old than in young animals. A study carried out in senescent men and women who have carried out moderate exercise for 6 months (3 sessions of 45 min per week), shows a significant improvement in the functionality of neutrophils, lymphocytes and NK cells. It has been suggested that the mechanisms involved in this positive influence would include a direct effect of factors released in response to exercise on immunocompetent cells that would lead to an increase in their antioxidant defenses. Animal studies show that macrophage ascorbate content increases after exercise. In addition, Clinical studies show that the antioxidant defenses of neutrophils and peripheral blood lymphocytes increase after moderate physical exercise. This effect is accompanied by a decrease in the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and other inflammatory markers, and by an increase in anti-inflammatory cytokines.
" It can be postulated that moderate physical activity can slow down the aging process by restoring the balance between oxidants and antioxidants in immune cells and reducing inflammation ."
2. Immunity and Intense / Strenuous Exercise
Strenuous exercise involves physiological stress and transient but clinically important changes in the immune system. After intense, resistant and prolonged exercise, there is a reduction in NK cell activity, neutrophil functions, T and B lymphocyte functionality, IgA concentration in saliva, DTH response and the expression of MHC-II in macrophages (Table 1). These alterations persist for hours after exercise. Responsible mechanisms include stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, changes in body temperature, increased blood flow, dehydration, muscle injury, and oxidative stress. During intense training, the concentrations of cortisol, epinephrine and pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines such as IL-6, IL-8, IL-10 and TNFa increase, among other. The immune deficit that occurs in intense exercise lasts for 3-72 hours and during this period viral or bacterial infections can easily occur.
In summary, we need to understand that in order to avoid infections, we need a strong immune system. Moderate exercise will stimulate all the systems that will increase our immune system and in that way protect us from viral infections such as Covid-19.
Diet and exercise can save lifes but unfortunately is not what governmnts, doctors media and even the WHO (World Health Organization) are not teaching. We need to start educating our selves to get real results.
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