Get Outside and Exercise – Your Immune System Will Thank You

immune system

Evan Stevens

The first talk of the session presented some interesting findings from their study. The researchers wanted to know the effect location had on exercise in the elderly, primarily on the immune system. They had senior subjects (age range 66-80) do a moderate workout on a cycling bike either in a blank office, an office that was decorated with plants, natural lighting, and outdoor sounds (simulated outdoors), and finally in the true outdoors in a backyard under a tree. Temperature, wind, humidity, and other outdoor factors were all recorded to record the different environments. This comes from the fact that we have only recently started spending the majority of our days indoors. Hundreds of thousands of years of evolution have allowed us to survive and thrive outdoors, after all.

Immune system

Research Findings

The researchers found that cycling in a true outdoor environment (not in the simulated outdoor environment) caused a significant increase in the circulation of white blood cells and monocytes post-exercise. So, being outside and doing work in nature is seemingly of great benefit to your immune system. This is especially true for the elderly. But how does this work? Well, no one knows right now. The researchers couldn’t come up with a reason for why the immune system improves after an outdoor workout and not an indoor one. Their only thought was that there might be something back in our evolutionary line that has led to this.

Take Away

Exercising outdoors significantly improves the function of the immune system, especially in older adults. And this improvement will be to a greater extent than indoors, or a simulated outdoor environment. Only problem is, we don’t know why this is the case.

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