Exercise Boosts Immune Health

Exercise Boosts Immune Health

New report shows that moderate exercise can improve immune function and could reduce risk of contracting COVID-19.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recently released a report emphasizing the benefits of regular exercise, particularly when it comes to maintaining and strengthening immune function. It goes without saying that building strong immune systems during the COVID-19 pandemic is more critical than ever. There are only a few ways to build strong immunity, and exercise is one! Dr. William Roberts, one of the co-authors of the report, said that even moderate exercise improves immune function and could be a factor in reducing the risk of contracting COVID-19. 

It’s important to keep in mind, building your immune system is not a one-time event. Like any health, wellness, or fitness goal, it is the small, daily consistent practices that help build your immunity. Getting enough sleep, minimizing stress, taking your vitamins and exercising regularly are all things that can help give your immune system a boost. When it comes to exercise, the ACSM suggests a minimum of moderate exercise totaling 150-300 minutes per week. What does “moderate exercise” mean, and how can you make it part of your life? Here’s how!

Start designing your fitness plan with the FITTE principle: frequency, intensity, time, type, and enjoyment. 


Your immune system works like a muscle; the actions you consistently take each day lead to strength. Try to find 30 minutes, 5-6 days/week for intentional movement or exercise. 


“Moderate exercise” seems open to interpretation. When working on fitness, there are many ways to measure intensity. Start by using a scale of 1-10. Moderate exercise feels like a 4-6/10. If you feel like you are working hard, but could still say Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in one breath, you are likely working moderately. 

You can also measure intensity with heart rate. Start by taking 180-age. Here’s an example for a 40 year old: 180-40 = 140. The 140 is an estimation of your anaerobic threshold. Working higher than that would be intense exercise, used for interval training. Working 10-20 beats below this number would be moderate exercise. 


Time refers to the duration of your workout each day. The ACSM suggests a minimum of moderate-to-vigorous exercise totaling 150-300 minutes per week. This equates to about 30 minutes/day as your starting goal. 


Type refers to the contents of your workout. This could be walking, jogging, swimming, biking, boxing, dancing, weight lifting, yoga, Pilates, or another preferred moving method. Allow all exercise to count toward your efforts. If you are new to workouts or returning from a layoff, start with 15 min/day of dedicated cardiovascular activity like walking, jogging, biking, or swimming, and 15-20 min of light total body resistance training 2x/week. 


The best kind of exercise is the kind that you will do. You are much more likely to do what you love. Feel free to explore different types of movement to see what you enjoy. Making your favorites part of your routine will help boost your immunity and overall health and give you a mood booster!  

In closing, if you are a healthy, active teen or adult, wondering how to boost your immunity with exercise, the above plan is for you. Have questions or thoughts to share? We love to hear from you on IG and Facebook. We are all in this together. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Meredith Butulis is a Sports Medicine Physical Therapist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, and Precision Nutrition Certified Nutrition Coach in practice since 2002. She consistently walks the talk as a fitness, physique, and OCR world level competitor and lifestyle transformer since 2006, celebrating many wins along the way. Want more total fitness lifestyle inspiration and interaction? Follow Dr. Meredith on Instagram @Dr.MeredithButulis or join the free “Fitness Focus Fuel” Facebook Group.