Dr. Anil Batta*


Epidemiological evidence suggests a link between the intensity of the exercise and the occurrence of infections and diseases. The innate immune system appears to respond to chronic stress of intensive exercise by increased natural killer cell activity and suppressed neutrophil function. The measured effects of exercise on the innate immune system are complex and depend on several factors: the type of exercise, intensity and duration of exercise, the timing of measurement in relation to the exercise session, the dose and type of immune modulator used to stimulate the cell in vitro or in vivo, and the site of cellular origin. When comparing immune function in trained and non-active persons, the adaptive immune system is largely unaffected by exercise. Physical activity in combination with infections is usually associated with certain medical risks, partly for the person who is infected and partly for the other athletes who may be infected. The risk of infection is greatest in team sports, but also in other sports where athletes have close physical contact before, during and after training and competitions. This chapter starts with a short introduction of the immune system followed by a description of free radicals’ and antioxidants’ role in the immune system and how they are affected by physical activity. The chapter will also focus on need of antioxidant supplementation in combination with physical activity. The different theories regarding the effect of physical activity on the immune system will be discussed, along with advantages and disadvantages of being active, and finally effects of physical activity on the immune system are described.

Keywords: Exercise, immunology, cancer, rehabilitation, survival.

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