Battling Infection with Exercise
Infection is a process stretched over time, from days to weeks. It starts from acquiring (e.g., inhaling) the number of viruses that is above the infection threshold (see a related blog on INFECTION TRESHOLD), so they can overwhelm the immune system. The infection threshold changes from individual to individual; importantly, it can be lowered when the immune system is compromised.
The symptoms do not appear right away after infection takes place; typically, it takes from several days to two weeks (COVID-19 is the case in point) for symptoms to appear in exposed individuals. What happens during this incubation period is that the viruses gradually take hold of the body as their population grows and they start attacking the organs most vulnerable to them (lungs, for SARS-V).
The virus colony grows with time so their concentration in the lungs and in the entire body grows. Immune system responds by destroying some of the viruses while the lymphatic system disposes some of them by “washing them out” from the lungs and other body tissues. If these two defense mechanisms are not sufficient to first offset the virus reproduction and then reverse its population growth in the entire body, infection get underway.
The position we are offering here is that, in addition to helping our immune system with vaccinations and other medical intervention, there exists another weapon, physical exercise, that will help to enhance the second defense mechanism, virus disposal.
EXERCISE TO RESQUE
We propose that at the initial phase of the virus incubation, the extraneous exercise loading disproportionally the organs targeted by the viruses (lungs, for SARS) can intensify the virus disposal and thus help the immune system to stop and reverse the growth of the virus population in the body. In addition, the increased water intake during the exercise will dilute the virus concentration further.
The exercises will delay the onset of the symptomatic phase and may eventually help to defeat the infection by giving the immune system the chance for developing the adequate antibody inventory. The suggested window of opportunity is in stretching out the virus incubation time.
Since the actual moment of infection may vary, our Rx is the daily extraneous exercises during the pandemics or flu seasons. The regular exercises will also improve your general health – a bonus!
NOTE: Before starting strenuous exercises, consult your doctor to determine the level of intensity and duration of your exercises.
A somewhat related recent publication in WSJ, January 24, 2022: Exercise Is Good for You, Even if You Have a Mild Case of Covid – WSJINFECTION