The benefits of physical activity for your immune system are numerous. Amongst other things, it can minimise the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, as well as dementia and depression8. Dr Jenna tells us that “habitual moderate to vigorous exercise reduces the risk of upper respiratory tract infections (like the common cold) over a 12-week period by more than 40%9”. That’s a pretty impressive statistic.
However, there is a danger that we’re simply not moving enough on a daily basis. As Dr Jenna points out, “modern advances make our lives easier, but they've led many of us to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. Moving less and sitting for long periods of time means we’re missing out on all of these immune supporting benefits”.
A further problem is the fact that the word ‘exercise’ can conjure up images of unsustainable and intensive efforts, which can affect our motivation and in turn, our actions. On that point, Dr Jenna has some welcome words of encouragement;
“The good news is that breaking up sedentary time and being more physically active doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym… Running on a treadmill for an hour or hitting an intense gym class isn’t the only form of exercise! Reframe exercise as ‘movement’ and drop the rules. We’re more likely to repeatedly do things that we enjoy. What’s important is getting your heart rate up and using your muscles – it doesn’t matter how you do it. Your workout also doesn’t need to last as long as you think. Aim for the 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week recommended by the NHS9 and go from there. Remember you can split this as you see fit, and even break it down into short bursts. Any activity is better than none, and more is better still. My ethos is that we just need to move more, move more often, and move in lots of different ways”.
Some really simple ways to get moving include:
You could also try dancing, a really fun way to get you moving. Dr Jenna says that “dance has been shown to lower stress10, a known immunity disruptor, and have broad health benefits including improving cognitive function and brain health10”.
For dances which fit easily into your daily routines, take a look at our Im-Move-Ity campaign, with Dr Jenna and Strictly Come Dancing’s Giovanni Pernice, and get ready to have some fun whilst supporting your immune system health!