In case you need another reason to get off the couch, here it is: Exercise is not solely for heart health or reaching a healthy body weight. From pumping iron to jogging hills, physical activity is good for you and may also work to lower inflammation in your body.
Whenever your body has an injury of some kind – infection, toxin, or physical injury – the body has a natural response is to protect itself from harm. As a result, it’s common to experience symptoms that might include swelling, muscle stiffness, fatigue, or pain. Your body is reacting to these foreign invaders by creating inflammation, which is not always a bad thing, depending on the type and how long the body is inflamed.
That’s why there are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation occurs when you bang your knee or cut your finger. Your immune system dispatches an army of white blood cells to surround and protect the area, creating visible redness and swelling. The process works similarly if you have an infection like the flu or pneumonia. In these situations, inflammation is essential. Without it, injuries would fester and simple infections could be deadly.
The second type of inflammation is chronic inflammation. This type is a long-term, systemic issue that can bring on bigger health issues if not resolved. Chronic inflammation is often the result of age-related disease brought on by lifestyle choices, such as poor diet, smoking, poor sleep, and lack of exercise.
Signs of chronic inflammation can include muscle and joint pain, eczema, psoriasis, and hives, constant fatigue, excess mucous production, digestive issues, and dry eyes.
Chronic inflammation can also have other serious consequences. It’s been implicated as a contributor to conditions like heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and even erectile dysfunction (ED).
How exercise fights inflammation
As it turns out, exercise does a body good – and not just for muscles or weight loss – as just minutes of exercise acts as an anti-inflammatory. This finding is from a study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, that found one 20-minute session of moderate exercise such as brisk walking can stimulate the immune system, producing an anti-inflammatory cellular response.
One way is with changes in the brain and sympathetic nervous system. Both the brain and sympathetic nervous system are a pathway to accelerating heart rate and raises blood pressure during exercise helping the body do its work. At the same time, hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine are released into the blood stream triggering adrenergic receptors, which immune cells possess.
This activation process during exercise produces immunological responses, which include the production of many cytokines, or proteins, one of which is TNF – a key regulator of local and systemic inflammation that also helps boost immune response.
The study found that exercising moderately for just 20 minutes, resulted in a five percent decrease in the number of stimulated immune cells producing TNF.
Men, who often suffer from chronic inflammation like heart disease, diabetes, and ED, should utilize this information by finding time to engage in moderate physical activity for at least 20 minutes most if not each day of the week. Examples of moderate exercise include brisk walking, hiking, playing doubles tennis, and bicycling 10-12 mph on level ground or with few hills, push mowing the lawn, water aerobics, or dancing.
Even better, men who currently do not have chronic inflammation can significantly maintain good health by adopting a 20 minute regimen of moderate exercise each day.
It is advisable for any man who already has chronic health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or cancer, should always consult their doctor first regarding the best treatment plan for them.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.