By Erik Bustillo, RD, CISSN, CSC, CPT

Exercise is often seen and used as a stress reliever. Those of us who train regularly especially with family/friends, know that it is much more than a stress reliever. It is a social gathering. A time to get away from our issues of that day. An opportunity to see the people who make us smile and push us to be better. Now more than ever, are we all missing our coaches yelling 3, 2, 1, GO! to get your workout started and let the self-inflicted push to be a better, fitter athlete (that typically involves being out of breath and in slight pain) begin. We are missing those early wake up calls and alarm clocks. The text messages saying “see you tomorrow in the gym.” We’re missing this social interaction.

No matter how much we miss it, we must continue to stay away from each other (for now). Hopefully, all of us are practicing social distancing at its best to ensure we do our part to help medical staff, first responders, and society during this trying time. The Corona Virus or COVID-19 has quickly spread and more municipalities are ordering civilians to stay home. With all these recent health concerns, immune system health has become a popular topic for obvious reasons.

The scientific article linked HERE discusses the history of exercise and immunology science as well as what the data say. We have always known immune system function is important, but now more than ever. Since many individuals SHOULD be practicing social distancing, at-home workouts have become the only option. This article is here to encourage you to continue training, even if it has to be at home. This research paper goes into great detail about exercise and immune function and slightly touches on nutrition. Ultimately, these are the conclusion points from the paper:

  • Moderate to vigorous training/exercise (less than 60 minute bouts) helps stimulate our immune system
  • High training loads/repetitive competition can suppress immune system (train, but don’t overdo it!)
  • Risk for illness increases if training loads are excessively high (listen to your coach when they tell you to “take it easy today” or “go at this pace and use this weight”)
  • Direct quote: “The IOC (International Olympic Committee) has also focused on load management of both internal (e.g., psychological responses) and external factors (e.g., training and competition workloads), and lifestyle strategies (e.g., hygiene, nutritional support, vaccination, regular sleep) to reduce illness incidence and associated downturns in exercise performance, interruptions in training, missed competitive events, and risk of serious medical complications.
  • Regular exercise helps decrease risk of Upper Respiratory Tract Infections as well as decreased mortality and incidence rates for influenza and pneumonia
  • Exercise helps increase circulation of anti-inflammatory and immune cells
  • Regular exercise helps the gut microbiome
  • As we age, our immune system tends to get weaker, exercise helps slow that down
  • Nutrition plays a key role in supporting immune system and recovery from exercise

If the reasons above don’t excite you to continue exercising, then just keep doing it TO FEEL GOOD. Remember, we’re all in this together. We will get through this. Let exercise continue to be your therapy. Use technology to help you see and workout with your friends virtually. Let’s keep this ball rolling. Post your workouts online or create a friendly challenge! 

I’d love to see what you’re doing, feel free to share with me on Instagram @erikbustillo. Stay strong, keep training, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face.

Peace and much love to ya!

Are you looking for ways to work out without a gym membership? Check out this article from Money Crashers for, 13 Ways to Exercise & Work Out Without a Gym Membership.

About Author:
Erik Bustillo is a Registered Dietitian. Erik is also a Certified Sports Nutritionist through the International Society of Sports Nutrition- ISSN, a Certified Strength Coach through the National Council on Strength & Fitness, and a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association - NSCA. He also specializes in reading and understanding blood/lab values that have a direct effect on the human physiology and one’s ability to perform. Several fields of expertise are energy improvement, performance recovery, weight loss, working with professional/elite athletes, stress management, inspirational communication. 

Erik has studied the science of nutrition for many years because he understands that nutrition is an elemental factor with the state of well-being. His mission is to make this world a better place and he strives to accomplish this by helping others achieve their health and life goals. He believes that with hard work and determination, everyone is capable of accomplishing what they set their mind to. Erik is passionate about making his patients/clients push themselves harder and further than they ever imagined. His practical approach puts exercise and nutritional science into easy to follow steps for action. Keep up with Erik by following @erikbustillo on Instagram.

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