Fitness Fights Disease

The biggest COVID surprise (that shouldn't surprise you)

Back a few years ago when March happened, (So. Long. Ago.) you probably had an idea of how long this COVID-thing would go on (yeah, us too).  As the reality has become apparent, and more evidence about the virus has been realized, it turns out your old nemesis Exercise can do more than just reduce your quarantine waist line. It actually helps  improve your body’s ability to fight off infectious diseases. 

We’ve long heard the benefits of fitness on stress management, heart health, and in the fight against obesity. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the disproportionate impact of the disease on the de-conditioned or chronically ill has become increasingly obvious. As evidence to this effect increases, it would appear that Americans are finally realizing that fitness can do more than make a body look good — it can help improve the body’s ability to ward off infectious agents and better prepare the body for healing in the case of an illness.

 

Strength training is just one way to utilize fitness to improve your body’s ability to fight infection.

Exercise could be front-line defense against disease

The positive effects of exercise are many and have been well-documented. But what may surprise you is how simple the process is. By increasing blood flow, your body’s own natural immune cells (read: white blood cells) circulate faster. Over time, your immune system can improve in its response time and its effectiveness, as demonstrated in a recent study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Among other findings, the study demonstrated that consistent fitness activity — and in particular, aerobic activity — can demonstrably reduce the duration of upper respiratory infections (URTI), as compared to the duration of URTI among those who are sedentary.

Fitness can also fight disease by reducing stress

It’s probably not news to any of you that stress levels can be heightened during these times. What may not be so apparent is the effect stress has on the body’s immune system. This Journal of Immunology study found that during periods of “mild acute stress,” production of corticosterone (stress hormone) increased, and was accompanied by a “significant decrease” in the presence and percentages of leukocytes (aka white blood cells). These findings are significant in that they demonstrate the body’s immune system becomes less adept at fighting infection during periods of stress.

What is lesser known, and is the focus of organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine, is how the body’s immune function improves or declines in the presence of stressors resulting from prolonged confinement or isolation.  In a study of astronauts heading to a mission at the International Space Station, the ACSM found that those astronauts who exercised more prior to their deployment returned to earth with greater immune function and lower infection risk than those astronauts who were de-conditioned prior to the mission. Collectively, this early evidence indicates that first, not only can exercise improve circulation of the body’s immune cells, thus improving your immune response and reducing the duration of infection, secondly, exercise can also reduce stress, therefore improving your immune response from this secondary angle.

TLDR: Stress sucks, and reduces our ability to fight infection. Exercise can help reduce stress, thus helping improve your body's immunity.

VENT Virtual is an easy way to ensure you keep your workouts on track no matter where you are.

Virtual workouts -- building your health right now

If you haven’t been active since (before) March, don’t worry. The gyms are open and safe, and with the help of our members and staff, workouts are back on the rise. And if a visit to the club isn’t at the top of your schedule, VENT Fitness has become more accessible than ever with the launch of our all-new VENT Virtual. This new program set allows you to stream classes live from our clubs on any of your preferred devices. It’s simple, and it’s free,* which makes it an easy addition to your daily routine (maybe sometime before or after your Netflix queue). 

VENT Virtual Livestream + the App

VENT Virtual will offer a variety of classes in real time, and for some members, this may help provide a sense of community and camaraderie that isn’t available using other forms of virtual workouts. Right now, members can peruse RIDE, HIIT, Total Body and other formats, but can expect to see more Livestream classes added to the schedule in the coming weeks. One of the perks will also be trackability — members who also sync their workouts using the VENT Fitness app can schedule themselves into class, see real-time biofeedback, a virtual leader board, and more. 

The Takeaway

Fitness is an excellent means of improving your immunity, and can help contribute to your resiliency and recovery in the instance of an illness. It will help reduce stress (including the kind brought on by staying home), and with the all-new VENT Virtual schedule coupled with the accountability of the VENT Fitness app, you have more options than ever to get or stay fit. Because be honest — if not now, then when? We’ll see you in (or outside of) the clubs!