Exercise... It does a body good: 20 minutes can act as anti-inflammatory

January 12, 2017
Credit: Peter Griffin/Public Domain

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 at University of California San Diego School of Medicine 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, fibromyalgia and for more pervasive conditions, such as obesity.

The study, recently published online in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, 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," said senior author Suzi Hong, PhD, in the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at UC San Diego School of Medicine. "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 producing TNF," said Hong. "Knowing what sets regulatory mechanisms of inflammatory proteins in motion may contribute to developing new therapies for the overwhelming number of individuals with , including nearly 25 million Americans who suffer from autoimmune diseases."

The 47 study participants walked on a treadmill at an intensity level that was adjusted based on their fitness level. Blood was collected before and immediately after the 20 minute exercise challenge.

"Our study shows a workout session doesn't actually have to be intense to have anti-inflammatory effects. Twenty minutes to half-an-hour of , including fast walking, appears to be sufficient," said Hong. "Feeling like a workout needs to be at a peak exertion level for a long duration can intimidate those who suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases and could greatly benefit from physical activity."

Inflammation is a vital part of the body's immune response. It is the body's attempt to heal itself after an injury; defend itself against foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria; and repair damaged tissue. However, chronic inflammation can lead to serious health issues associated with diabetes, celiac disease, obesity and other conditions.

"Patients with should always consult with their physician regarding the appropriate treatment plan, but knowing that can act as an anti-inflammatory is an exciting step forward in possibilities," said Hong.

Explore further: Walking may help protect kidney patients against heart disease and infections

More information: Stoyan Dimitrov et al, Inflammation and exercise: Inhibition of monocytic intracellular TNF production by acute exercise via β2-adrenergic activation, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2016.12.017

Related Stories

Walking may help protect kidney patients against heart disease and infections

April 3, 2014
Just a modest amount of exercise may help reduce kidney disease patients' risks of developing heart disease and infections, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology ...

Regular exercise beneficial in suppressing inflammation in rheumatic disease

June 12, 2014
Research findings presented today at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2014) suggest that exercise transiently suppresses local and systemic inflammation, reinforcing the beneficial effects of ...

Anti-inflammatory drugs could help treat symptoms of depression, study suggests

October 18, 2016
Anti-inflammatory drugs similar to those used to treat conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis could in future be used to treat some cases of depression, concludes a review led by the University of Cambridge, ...

How to engineer a stronger immune system

August 9, 2016
With a trick of engineering, scientists at the Gladstone Institutes improved a potential weapon against inflammation and autoimmune disorders. Their work could one day benefit patients who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease ...

Potential therapeutic targets identified for multiple sclerosis

January 25, 2016
Treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) and other inflammatory diseases may benefit by new findings from a study that identified potential therapeutic targets for a devastating disease striking some 2.3 million people worldwide.

New class of molecules play key role in influencing the immune system

August 24, 2016
In a study published online this week in Science Translational Medicine, investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome report that resolvins and maresins, molecules produced in the ...

Recommended for you

Australian researchers in peanut allergy breakthrough

August 17, 2017
Australian researchers have reported a major breakthrough in the relief of deadly peanut allergy with the discovery of a long-lasting treatment they say offers hope that a cure will soon be possible.

Genetic variants found to play key role in human immune system

August 16, 2017
It is widely recognized that people respond differently to infections. This can partially be explained by genetics, shows a new study published today in Nature Communications by an international collaboration of researchers ...

Study identifies a new way to prevent a deadly fungal infection spreading to the brain

August 16, 2017
Research led by the University of Birmingham has discovered a way to stop a deadly fungus from 'hijacking' the body's immune system and spreading to the brain.

Biophysics explains how immune cells kill bacteria

August 16, 2017
(Tokyo, August 16) A new data analysis technique, moving subtrajectory analysis, designed by researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology, defines the dynamics and kinetics of key molecules in the immune response to an infection. ...

How a nutrient, glutamine, can control gene programs in cells

August 15, 2017
The 200 different types of cells in the body all start with the same DNA genome. To differentiate into families of bone cells, muscle cells, blood cells, neurons and the rest, differing gene programs have to be turned on ...

Scientists identify gene that controls immune response to chronic viral infections

August 15, 2017
For nearly 20 years, Tatyana Golovkina, PhD, a microbiologist, geneticist and immunologist at the University of Chicago, has been working on a particularly thorny problem: Why are some people and animals able to fend off ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.