Posted on July 15, 2019

Category: Healthy Habits

Are you ready? This could be the most important article you ever read. Nobody likes being sick but sometimes—despite our regular use of hand sanitizer and our artful avoidance of uncovered sneezes—we wind up getting sick anyway. What if there was another way we could ward off sickness? After all, preventing sickness is much better than treating sickness, right? Well, as it turns out, staying active does more than keep you from getting winded too easily; it actually helps your body fight off illness.

Read on to learn more about the role physical activity plays in our ability to avoid illness.

How Does South Dakota Stack Up?

According to the Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index, South Dakota ranked 9th out of all 50 states in overall well-being. Top 10 is pretty good, right? Well, when you take a closer look, the numbers showroom for improvement. The index is made up of five different element scores: physical, community, financial, social and career. The Rushmore state shines in the career, financial and community score sections, but fell short on the physical score. In the index, Gallup defines the physical score as “having good health and enough energy to get things done daily.”

What does this mean?
Gallup’s index is a pretty solid sign that our state’s energy and physical activity levels could use a boost, but what that means is a bit different for everyone. For instance, the US Department of Health and Human Services recommends a minimum of two and a half hours per week of moderately intense exercise for adults aged 18 to 64. As an alternative, they recommend combining moderate and high-intensity workouts for at least one hour and 15 minutes. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that children and adolescents do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity daily.

Check out this video from Tech Insider on What Happens To Your Body When You Start Exercising Regularly:


The Little Stuff

So, physical activity may sound like a good option, but what does it actually do to prevent illness? Regularly getting your blood pumping has countless little impacts on the way your body runs that help to prevent a whole host of minor, yet annoying, conditions.

The Big Stuff

While regular physical activity helps us fight off a myriad of smaller, less substantial illnesses, it also protects our bodies from a number of serious conditions as well.

A Word About Your White Blood Cells

It’s worth noting that your white blood cells play a major role in your ability to fight off illness. Regular exercise causes change in your antibodies and white blood cells. These are the immune system cells that fight disease. When you exercise, they circulate in your bloodstream more rapidly, which allows them to more effectively fight off illnesses and infections. Think of them as county sheriffs patrolling the superhighways of your immune system.

Simple Ways to Get Started

By now, you’re probably fairly convinced that regular physical activity is a big win for your overall health, but knowing that something is good for you and taking steps to accomplish it are often two very different things. With that being said, here are a few easy ways to get started:

This list is far from being all-inclusive. The most important thing is that you find something you can stick with and keeps you active. Change doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s important to start small and build upon your progress. Once you get started, you will likely find that you love the way staying active makes you feel, and sometimes that can be all the motivation you need. As long as you’re increasing your physical activity, whatever you decide to do will be a step in the right direction.

As with everything that relates to your physical health and well-being, it’s important to talk to your doctor before jumping into your new fitness program.

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, November 28). Heart Disease Facts & Statistics. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017, September 6). Stroke Facts. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, November 14). Youth Physical Activity Guidelines | Physical Activity | Healthy Schools | CDC. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/physicalactivity/guidelines.htm

Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Exercising for Better Sleep. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/exercising-for-better-sleep

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019, May 11). 7 great reasons why exercise matters. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. (2017, February 21). Physical Activity Fundamental To Preventing Disease. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://aspe.hhs.gov/basic-report/physical-activity-fundamental-preventing-disease

Reynolds, G. (2015, December 16). How Exercise May Help Us Fight Off Colds. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/16/how-exercise-may-help-us-fight-off-colds/

Rynders, C. A., Weltman, J. Y., Jiang, B., Breton, M., Patrie, J., Barrett, E. J., & Weltman, A. (2013, December 20). Effects of exercise intensity on postprandial improvement in glucose disposal and insulin sensitivity in prediabetic adults. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24243632

Tech Insider. (2018, January 24). What Happens To Your Body When You Start Exercising Regularly | The Human Body. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBUjOY12gJA

Vorvick, L. J., MD. (2018, January 14). Exercise and immunity: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia (D. Zieve MD, MHA & B. Conaway, Eds.). Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm

Weir, K. (2011, December). The exercise effect. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/12/exercise

Witters, D. (2019, March 27). Hawaii Tops U.S. in Wellbeing for Record 7th Time. Retrieved June 25, 2019, from https://news.gallup.com/poll/247034/hawaii-tops-wellbeing-record-7th-time.aspx