EXERCISE & IMMUNE FUNCTION
Our immune system is a collection of cells, tissues and molecules that provide us with resistance to infection and toxins. The function of our immune system is important for health and wellbeing, and can be affected by many things.
At The Injury Clinic, we see a lot of people with high training loads. Your training load can have a significant effect on your immune function. If you’ve become unwell post-event or during your training program… this might be why.
HIGH TRAINING LOADS
Heavy training schedules or endurance competitions are examples of extreme physical stress that can lead to immunosuppression. This reduction in immune function can increase our susceptibility to infection.
Unfortunately, there is a risk of illness associated with exercise. See graph below.
This model suggests that moderate amounts of physical exercise will lower your risk of infection when compared to none, or very little physical exercise. However, high volumes of strenuous exercise may suppress the immune system and increase risk of infection.
It has been shown that post-exercise, our immune function can be impaired for a period of time. This impairment is at it’s greatest when the exercise is continuous, prolonged (>1.5 hours), or moderate to high intensity (70-77% of VO2 max) and performed without food intake.
The decrease in immunity observed following such exercise has a variable duration, and may last between 3 and 72 hours. During this time, you are at a greater risk of of subclinical and clinical infection.
Unfortunately, there is no single method that completely eliminates the risk of infection, however there are several effective ways to reduce the risk during post-exercise immunosuppression.
One way is to use appropriate immune-nutritional support. Nutritional agents have the capacity to attenuate immune changes and inflammation following intensive exercise…
If you need advice on Sports Nutrition, The Injury Clinic’s Tim Stewart is an accredited Sports Dietitian and is here to provide all the advice you need on nutrition & immune function.
If you’re finding it hard to find the right training load to achieve your goals, come and chat with one of our Physiotherapists. They might just be able to suggest some things you hadn’t considered.