Researchers here quantify the degree to which exercise has immediate anti-inflammatory effects. This is one of the many ways in which exercise is beneficial for health. Rising chronic inflammation is characteristic of aging and the failing immune system, and contributes meaningfully to the progression of all of the common age-related diseases. Less inflammation is a good thing when considering long-term health.
It's well known that regular physical activity has health benefits, including weight control, strengthening the heart, bones and muscles and reducing the risk of certain diseases. Recently, researchers found how just one session of moderate exercise can also act as an anti-inflammatory. The findings have encouraging implications for chronic diseases like arthritis and for more pervasive conditions, such as obesity. The study found one 20-minute session of moderate exercise can stimulate the immune system, producing an anti-inflammatory cellular response. "Each time we exercise, we are truly doing something good for our body on many levels, including at the immune cell level. The anti-inflammatory benefits of exercise have been known to researchers, but finding out how that process happens is the key to safely maximizing those benefits."
The brain and sympathetic nervous system - a pathway that serves to accelerate heart rate and raise blood pressure, among other things - are activated during exercise to enable the body to carry out work. Hormones, such as epinephrine and norepinephrine, are released into the blood stream and trigger 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 responses. "Our study found one session of about 20 minutes of moderate treadmill exercise resulted in a five percent decrease in the number of stimulated immune cells producing TNF. Knowing what sets regulatory mechanisms of inflammatory proteins in motion may contribute to developing new therapies for the overwhelming number of individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions."