Regular physical activity is one of the most effective ways to reduce inflammation in the body. Exercise reduces stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, and improves blood vessel function. It also promotes a healthy metabolism and protects against excess fat accumulation. Reducing inflammation through exercise isn’t only beneficial for your mind but also for your body. With an optimally functioning immune system, you can more readily respond to infections or injuries, with inflammation serving as a bridge connecting initial outside threat with a subsequent defensive response. In other words, regulated inflammation is an essential catalyst for our natural defense mechanisms that enable us to fight off dangerous invaders from outside stressors like bacteria or viruses. In simple terms, when you exercise regularly, you lower your risk of developing chronic diseases. Regular physical activity helps slow the production of pro-inflammatory chemicals produced by fat tissue, it also aids in increasing the production of anti-inflammatory chemicals.
How Does Physical Activity Reduce Inflammation?
An important mechanism of action underlying the anti-inflammatory benefits of exercise relates to the energy metabolism during physical activity. The major energy source during exercise is derived from fat metabolism through a process called lipolysis. In addition to energy metabolism, exercise also produces several anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-10, IL-1ra, TGF-β, IL-6), which are responsible for reducing inflammation. It has been shown that regular exercise alters the levels of inflammatory cytokines and hormones, thereby reducing inflammation and its potential harmful effects. In fact, low-to-moderate intensity aerobic exercise has been shown to be as effective in reducing chronic low-grade inflammation as anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
By Burning Calories
Another mechanism by which physical activity reduces inflammation relates to the calories being burned during exercise. Through aerobic training, you can burn up to several hundred calories (depending on the intensity and duration of the workout). The high metabolic rate that occurs during physical activity can increase the use of glucose and fatty acids as sources of energy. Normally, the rate of fat burning is low, especially in people with a high body fat percentage. Diet and exercise can be used to raise the rate of fat burning. A high rate of fat burning results in increased levels of circulating fatty acids called free fatty acids (FFAs) in the bloodstream. By increasing the use of FFAs for energy production, physical activity can also increase their release into the bloodstream as well as secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
By Producing Natural Endorphins
Endorphins are powerful neurotransmitters that reduce pain and promote relaxation. The release of endorphins during exercise can help you cope with stress and anxiety, which are risk factors for inflammation. Regular exercise has been shown to increase the release of endorphins. This might be one reason why people who exercise regularly report feeling less stressed than people who don’t exercise. The increase in endorphin levels is believed to be responsible for the reduction in perceived pain and increase in relaxation that occurs after exercise. Endorphin release is not just beneficial for mental health but also helps reduce inflammation in the body and improves the immune system.
By Improving Fitness Level
Fitness level is associated with a reduced level of inflammation. High fitness level has been shown to positively impact the level of IL-6, a cytokine that plays a key role in promoting inflammation. In contrast, a low fitness level is associated with a high level of IL-6, which is believed to be directly related to coronary heart disease. Regular exercise increases the level of fitness. As a result, the level of IL-6 in the body decreases. A low level of IL-6 is believed to be one factor associated with reduced cardiovascular disease risk.
By Raising Body Temperature
According to the thermal theory of inflammation, certain stimuli, such as pathogens, can trigger an inflammatory response in the body. The inflammatory response serves to counteract and destroy the harmful stimuli. By bringing the temperature of the inflamed tissue to the same level as the stimulus, the harmful effects can be reduced or eliminated. The thermal theory of inflammation explains the role of exercise in reducing inflammation. Regular exercise raises the core temperature of the body, which can help reduce inflammation. Raising the temperature of the body is particularly beneficial when dealing with infectious diseases.
By Strengthening the Immune System
Regular exercise has been shown to increase the activity of natural killer cells that play an important role in the immune response. By increasing the number of NK cells, exercise can help the body better fight off infections and halt the development of cancer cells. Regular physical activity has been shown to increase the number of NK cells as well as reduce their programmed death (apoptosis). Moreover, exercise can increase the number of cytokines that help improve the function of NK cells. This helps the immune system respond more quickly to infections and guard against diseases.
All in all, regular exercise is one of the most reliable ways to reduce inflammation in the body. It can help reduce symptoms associated with chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and arthritis, and it can also help prevent these diseases from developing in the first place. Exercising regularly helps keep inflammation in check and is beneficial for both the mind and the body.