Regular exercise reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, stroke, coronary artery disease, cancer, dementia, depression and others. It can also be used as a natural treatment to improve symptoms of many of these conditions. This is in part because exercise has anti-inflammatory effects.
Inflammation in Disease
Inflammation is beneficial when needed, and is the body’s response to injury, or infection but it is disastrous when chronic. Chronic inflammation generates a constant supply of free radicals that overwhelm our anti-oxidant defenses and damage DNA, aging us and causing disease of every description.
Exercise as an Anti-Inflammatory
There is a strong connection between exercise and the reduction of whole body inflammation or chronic low grade inflammation. C-reactive protein (CRP) is an inflammatory messenger and is one marker of whole body inflammation. Regular exercise in the correct dose can reduce CRP levels in both young and old participants by 50 to 60 percent, as well as reducing your risk of developing elevated CRP levels and whole body inflammation.
The anti-inflammatory effects of regular exercise may be brought about by a reduction in visceral (organ) and abdominal fat mass, which results in a decrease of pro-inflammatory adipokines and cytokines which help stimulate the production of CRP. In addition each bout of exercise produces myokines and an anti-inflammatory environment and is associated with reduced CRP level.
How to Exercise
Generally more physical activity is associated with lower inflammatory markers such as CRP. Both resistance or strength and endurance training (e.g. swimming, walking, running) if done correctly and with enough recovery time is associated with reduced CRP and whole body inflammation. It is also important to consider that people with inflammatory conditions may need different exercise prescription.
If you need help determining the correct frequency, intensity, duration and type of exercise needed for your goals our exercise physiologist Linda Walker, can assist.
“Exercise is Natural Medicine”
- Gleeson M, Bishop NC, Stensel DJ, Lindley MR, Mastana SS, Nimmo MA. 2011. The Anti-inflammatory Effects of Exercise: Mechanisms and Implications for the Prevention and Treatment of Disease. Nature Reviews Immunology 11, 607-615 (September 2011)/ doi :10.1038/nri3041
- Stewart LK, Flynn MG, Campbell WW, Craig BA, Robinson P, Timmerman KL, Mcfarlin BK, Coen PM, Talbert E. 2007. The Influence of Exercise Training on Inflammatory Cytokines and C-Reactive Protein. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 39(10):1714-1719.
- Kasapis C, Thompson PD. 2005. The Effects of Physical Activity on serum C-Reactive Protein and Inflammatory Markers: A systemic Review. Journal of American College of Cardiology. 45(10):1563-1569