Research Question of the Week: Exercise Immunology - ABCbodybuilding

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Old 02-20-2006, 11:04 PM
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Default Research Question of the Week: Exercise Immunology

There have been hundreds of wars during the history of man, and many casualties have resulted. In response to this, we have spent billions of dollars on high tech defenses, including aircrafts, tanks, bombs, and guns. But the frequency and number of these wars are no comparison to the war we face on a daily bases with the unseen enemy. In fact, humans are constantly bombarded by billions of potentially dangerous viruses, parasites, and bacteria, so microscopic in size, that they cannot be detected by the human eye (Plowman & Smith, 2003). Fortunately for us, the human body was marvelously designed with a defense mechanism far superior to any human manufacturing (Behe, 1996).

Our first line of defense is our skin. This is displayed in burned victims, who have a significantly greater number of infections (Behe, 1996). If these invaders breach our first line of defense, then they must encounter a military more complex than any army in the worldóthe human immune system (Behe, 1996).

The immune system is an organized structure of cells, hormones, and chemicals that regulates our susceptibility and recovery from pathogens which cause various illnesses (Marieb, 2004). This system recognizes potentially harmful substances in the body, and works quickly to eradicate them before they can do damage. Unfortunately, the enemies against our bodies never cease attacking. Therefore, if our immune system is impaired, we risk the chance of acquiring potentially deadly diseases. For this reason, scientists have dedicated countless hours of research on ways to enhance immune function. One such investigation is the effect of exercise stress on the immune system.

For more information on exercise stress read the thread in this forum on the topic.

The purpose of this thread was to analyze the effects of exercise on immune function.

Questions that arise are: what are the effects of exercise intensity, duration, modality (i.e. resistence vs aeorobic training), and frequency of training on the immune system. What about overtraining? Also, should I train when I am sick?

Let me know your thoughts!

I am doing intense investigation on this. The topic is insane, and there are hundreds of studies on this.
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Old 02-21-2006, 05:43 PM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: Exercise Immunology

Ok, so it is important when researching, to make some predictions before you start. So here is what I predicted based on my research, as I began getting deep into this incredible investigation. You will notice that I attempt to opperationally define all my terms. This is a vital componenet of science!

I would like to hear our guys predictions on this issue, even if you have not done to much research. Based on your experience, what have you found to be the case in your life? Does exercise seem to enhance your immune system?





Hans Selye is considered by many to be the father of the study of stress (McEwen, 2002). Based on his work as a Hungarian scientist, Selye (1936) suggested that the body had a general mechanism to cope with stressors. Stressors can be defined as anything that causes the stress response; they may consist of various stimuli in the environment, such as the climate, environment, or social conditions. These observations lead Selye to define stress as the nonspecific response of the body to any demand made upon it to adapt, whether that demand produces pleasure or pain. Based on the general nature of stress, he developed the infamous General Adaptation Theory (Figure 1). This theory suggests that stress is composed of three phases: alarm reaction, stage of resistance, and stage of exhaustion. During alarm reaction, the introduction of a stressor leads to a decrease in performance. Following this is the stage of resistance, in which the organismís defense mechanisms fight to gain resistance. This is known as adaptation and is characterized by elevated levels of homeostasis. Lastly, if the stimulus is continuous then the individual would plateau or experience maladaptation (stage of exhaustion). The maladaptation according to Seyle reflected similar symptoms to the Alarm reaction stage, and was the result of a depletion of the organisms defense mechanisms caused by chronic stress.

While many view stress as a negative event, General Adaptation Theory demonstrates that while stress can have deleterious effects, it also plays an essential role in developing a healthy body, that is able to cope with the various demands thrown our way on a daily bases. Scientists have used this model to accurately make predictions, and explain observations in the environment (Simmons, 2006).

A second dominant theory is the fitness fatigue model developed by Banister, Calvert, and Savage (1975). The model views adaptation as a constant flux of growth and decay and further growth of the combination of two intervening variables on performance. Banister et al. (1975) denotes these variables as fitness or positive benefits and fatigue or negative effects, while performance is seen as the difference between the two. Therefore, if fatigue is greater than the fitness gains, performance will suffer, and visa versa.

In this context, the purpose of this thread was to analyze the effects of exercise on immune function, using the General Adaptation Theory and Fitness Fatigue Model. Based on the General Adaptation Theory, it was hypothesized that exercise would in many cases, acutely suppress immune function (alarm reaction), followed by an adaptation, characterized by elevated levels of immune function (stage of resistance). However, if the stressor of exercise was beyond the bodies capacity to cope, the immune system would plateau or experience maladaptation (stage of exhaustion). Using the fitness and fatigue model, it is predicted that exercise elicits two effects on the immune systemófitness and fatigue effects. When markers of immune function are improved, this would indicate the fitness effects were higher; conversely, when markers of immune function decrease, this would indicate that the fatigue aspect of exercise was more salient.

The topic of stress has been studied for almost a century now. Yet, there is no general consensus on the definition of stress. However, it is important to operationally define the term, so that it can be used in an applied situation. In this context, the current paper will view stress as an imbalance between demands and response capabilities when failure to meet the demands results in a disturbance in homeostasis. Typically, stress must be inferred from acute or chronic adaptations or maladaptations.
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Matthew 7:20
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
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Old 02-21-2006, 07:14 PM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: Exercise Immunology

what a great thread to consider.
overall I feel exercise increases the ability of the immune system. The fact that it decreases body fat, increases muscle mass, trains the heart, lungs etc it keeps everything in better working order, thus decreasing the susceptibiliy to viruses,etc.
some of the other effects, muscular contractions help the lymphatic system to flow as it should, preventing backup of lymph in the body which could lead to health issues as this waste material is allowed to sit in the body and not be released. exercise also helps to regulate colon contractions, so helps prevent constipation, ibs issues etc.
on the concern of overtraining, I definitely feel it will weaken the immune system. unfortunately our diets today can be deficient in vitamins, minerals, amino acids etc the body needs to recover. constant overtraining will add to this. one specific example is it will cause competition between the muscle mass and colon for glutamine, this will lead to a weakening of the intestinal lining (where approximately 70% of our immune system resides) which will increase susceptibility to viruses, bacteria, parasites and candida overgrowth.
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Old 02-22-2006, 04:30 AM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: Exercise Immunology

You are right on, bro. There is a great Model on the relationship between exercise and immune function. Let me give a brief introduction to it. I'll post more info proggresively.

The J-Curve and Open Window Hypotheses

While many claim that exercise decreases the frequency and potency of sicknesses, others claim that exercise increases a personís risk of illness. Evidence suggests that both sides may be right, depending on the frequency, intensity, and volume of exercise, as well as diet. In this context, intensity refers to percent of a one repetition maximal performanceósuch as a one repetition maximum, VO2 max, or heart rate maximum. Volume can be defined as sets multiplied by repetitions; when the objective task requires the participant to carry his or her own body over long distances, such as in swimming, bicycling, and running, then volume can be defined as the distance covered, or duration of the activity. And frequency can be defined as the number of training sessions over a period of time. Lastly, diet refers to the number of calories consumed per day, and the composition of those calories.

Several epidemiological studies (large scale data, among populations and countries, that donít control variables) commonly based on self report symptoms, have indicated that upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) such as a runny nose, sore throat, or coughing are significantly greater for 1-2 weeks after strenuous exercise such as marathon races (Heath, Ford, Craven, Macera, Jackson, & Pate, 1991; Nieman, Johanssen, & Lee. 1989). Conversely, other studies have indicated that moderate training volume and intensity may enhance immune function (Nieman et al., 1993). For instance, Nieman et al. (1990, a) investigated the relationship between improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness, and acute URTI. Participants consisted of 36 mildly obese women who were instructed to briskly walk at 60% of their max heart rate for 5 45 minute sessions per week for 15 weeks. Based on daily logs kept by the participants, the results indicated that the exercise condition had significantly fewer URTI symptoms, days, and incidents ( =3.6) than the non exercising condition ( =7.0 days). And there was a significant correlation with improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness and reduction in URTI (r=.37. p=.025).

Conflicting results such as these has lead to the development of the J-Shaped Curve Hypothesis (Nieman, Johanssen, Lee, & Arabatzis, 1990, b). This hypothesis suggests that people who perform moderate intensity, volume, and frequency of exercise are less susceptible to disease than sedentary individuals, due to a strengthened immune system; conversely, frequent high volume and intensity exercise was predicted to result in a linear suppression of immune function. This has further given rise to the Open Window Hypothesis, which suggests that the suppression in immune function following exercise may result in a period of increased susceptibility to disease. While this hypothesis is not universally accepted, and more research needs to be done to support it, there are several studies which bring credence to its recommendations.


I'll post more evidence on this soon!
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Matthew 7:20
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
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Old 02-22-2006, 05:12 AM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: Exercise Immunology

Kind of interesting, that I had been thinking about this topic over the past week or so, as well. 4 or 5 years ago, I had some kind of chronic allergic reaction going on. I would spit up phlegm almost on a continual basis. I had x-rays done to test for tuberculosis? which showed a clear chest, so they were somewhat stumped as to what it may have been. After 6-12 months of cardio (this was when I first started working out seriously after a layoff of several years), things started clearing up. However, what I noticed was that when I would ease up on the cardio, only doing it say once or twice a week, it would start getting worse.

Recently, when I got this strep throat or whatever it was, I was a bit feverish and decided to try a little experiment and do some cardio. Since I never, ever, ever get truly sick, I figured that maybe my immune system might need some extra stimulation, especially since I had not worked out in a week. However, knowing that when you are truly sick, you are "supposed to" get rest, I wanted to see what effects it would have. For one, I could only go for about 20 minutes. If I would have done it for the entire 40, I probably would have passed out. Secondly, it seemed to actually set back my recovery a bit, reverting a few days. After a few weeks, I am pretty much back to normal, though still with a trace of hoarseness. I read that the bacterial form of strep, if not treated properly, can leave you with an ongoing case of rheumatic fever, which kind of concerns me, though I am not even sure if what I had was strep, though my voice was sounding pretty bad. I don't feel feverish at all, so that is probably not the case. I have been working out this week with lots of energy, completely sugar-free and caffeine-free. It's amazing how it easy it is to kill those two birds with one stone, since all they really do is off-set each other. Maybe it was the viral version and I just need to focus on getting more rest by cutting the excess salt out of my diet which was giving me some hypertension.

I would have to conclude that when you are feverish and truly sick, it is probably not such a good thing to be working out, weakening your body's resources, and endangering the people around you, though in some cases, it can be beneficial, as evidenced by my prior experience. I would be the type to venture that maybe other systems come into play, such as the effects of testosterone, though that would be way out of my league.
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Old 02-22-2006, 05:36 AM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: Exercise Immunology

Thanks for the great post!

I have not come to a firm conclusion on the effects of exercise when you have a cold. They have not done many studies on this from what I have seen, which is strange. Just several recommendations based on the research.

From what I read, you should not exercise with a fever, as it may increase the risk of dehydration, heatstroke, and other problems. If you have above the neck" signs, such as a runny rose, sneezing or a sore throat, I have seen several sources recommend exercising at moderate intensities, moderate volumes. Here is a quote from what I have read from several sources, as well:

[ QUOTE ]
* Do a "neck check" of your symptoms first. If you have "above the neck" signs, such as a runny rose, sneezing or a sore throat, moderate exercise is generally safe as long as you do not have a fever. You can resume intense workouts as soon as the symptoms disappear. If you have "below the neck" signs, such as extreme tiredness, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, swollen lymph glands or a hacking cough, allow at least two weeks before returning to intense training. (By the way, the "neck check" was developed by The American Running Association's Editorial Board Member Randy Eichner, M.D., and is now widely recognized as the standard test to determine whether to take to the bed or the roads.)

[/ QUOTE ]

But again, I have not seen studies which actually substantiate this. It makes sense, but they need to do actual studies on this.
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Matthew 7:20
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
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Old 02-22-2006, 01:26 PM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: Exercise Immunology

I haven't read the last couple posts yet, but I had an idea, and I only have a sec - I'll check back after work. But, because we usually sweat during exercise, our pores open up, exposing the first layer of defense - our skin! Do you think that would make us more suseptible to germs?

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Old 02-24-2006, 03:07 AM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: Exercise Immunology

This is a very interesting topic for me. As I have always proffessed that if one just has a cough, or runny nose, exercise is the best cure. Anything that affects the entire body, that does not get better with hydration, should be rested. I say hydration because I notice sometimes in the mornings when I'm dehydrated I have the symptoms of a sickness worse than just a common cold. I'll be achy, weak, "fog" brained, etc.

On reading these posts, I noticed a couple things I think I can comment on.

For instance the following from Venom's post:
[ QUOTE ]
Several epidemiological studies (large scale data, among populations and countries, that donít control variables) commonly based on self report symptoms, have indicated that upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) such as a runny nose, sore throat, or coughing are significantly greater for 1-2 weeks after strenuous exercise such as marathon races (Heath, Ford, Craven, Macera, Jackson, & Pate, 1991; Nieman, Johanssen, & Lee. 1989).

[/ QUOTE ]

At least in this case, the marathon race would have likely happend outside. Now, while running outside for this distance, you are moving HUGE volumes of air through your lungs. Greatly increasing the likelyhood of breathing in alergens, toxins, airborn viruses and bacteria. And since controls are not the best in these typs of studies, it's hard to say what caused the symptoms.
That being said, I think it is quite likely that the combination of the increased possibility of assault on the immune system and the severely taxed body from the running would increase the chance of sickness. I personally don't think this particular study can be used to make any conclusions one way or another.


[ QUOTE ]
I haven't read the last couple posts yet, but I had an idea, and I only have a sec - I'll check back after work. But, because we usually sweat during exercise, our pores open up, exposing the first layer of defense - our skin! Do you think that would make us more suseptible to germs?

[/ QUOTE ]

I think absolutely not. When you sweat, you flush toxins out of your system, and out of your skin. The sweat will push things out of your pores and leave them on the surface of the skin. And then when you shower afterwards, you wash these toxins away. I think using this same logic, anything you do that opens the pores would leave you open to invasion, including standing in the sun. Even still the pores don't open directly to the blood stream, which is the real danger I believe. Great thinking though. Everything that looks like it might contribute should be investigated...and I could be completely wrong...but I don't think so [img]/forum/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img] Not trying to be arrogant...

I really like the "neck check". I think it's a little narrow though. I think it's a good idea to look at it systemically. If you have something wrong that's localized, you should be fine. But if it's all over, you need rest. For instance. Your shoulder aches, exercise will likely help clear it up. But if your entire body aches, you should hydrate and rest.
Of course this is just a generalization of the neck rule expanded to the rest of the body.

I personally think that exercise clears up most problems if you "hit it hard" before the sickness really sets in. I know when I feel a cold coming on, if I do a really good cardio session, I rarely get any worse. I think there are at least two reasons for this: heat and blood flow.
Two lines of defense the body uses when things "get bad" are fever and tachycardia (increasing blood flow). I think by placing the body into these states with exercise are a huge benefit and take care of things before they "get bad". High fever is an attempt to kill off viruses and bacteria. Increased blood flow carries toxins and antigens to the body's filters to discard them. So when we exercise, this is happening while we are healthy. So anything that might be trying to establish a "beach head" to use the war analogy, will get swept away and killed before it has a chance. Also one of the most healing and vital substance we have access to is oxygen. And clearly exercise gets oxygen moving around in much larger quantities.

Anyone have any thoughts on what I've said? I'd love to hear other opinions. I think this thread will get very interesting.

Just my $.02 [img]/forum/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 02-24-2006, 11:30 PM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: Exercise Immunology

[ QUOTE ]

I haven't read the last couple posts yet, but I had an idea, and I only have a sec - I'll check back after work. But, because we usually sweat during exercise, our pores open up, exposing the first layer of defense - our skin! Do you think that would make us more suseptible to germs?

[/ QUOTE ]

I have never heard that, but I think that is a great postulation, bro. I am going to have to look into that more. Thanks!
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Matthew 7:20
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
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Old 02-24-2006, 11:39 PM
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Default Re: Research Question of the Week: Exercise Immunology

Hi, SF

Great questions and thank for your incite.

[ QUOTE ]
Anything that affects the entire body, that does not get better with hydration, should be rested. I say hydration because I notice sometimes in the mornings when I'm dehydrated I have the symptoms of a sickness worse than just a common cold. I'll be achy, weak, "fog" brained, etc.


[/ QUOTE ]

Yeah, that is what a lot of people say. You have to be super careful with hydration issues.

Speaking of hydration, many have suggested dehydration suppresses immune function. This is because studies show that hydration decreases cortisol, and dehydration elevates it. Iíll discuss this in a moment, but cortisol is the number 1 suggested culprit for immune suppression, so this would make sense. But the ONE study I read on this should not support it. It had a lot of flaws though. Iíll have to research that more, because it makes a ton of sense. I donít see how that would not be the case.

[ QUOTE ]

At least in this case, the marathon race would have likely happend outside. Now, while running outside for this distance, you are moving HUGE volumes of air through your lungs. Greatly increasing the likelyhood of breathing in alergens, toxins, airborn viruses and bacteria. And since controls are not the best in these typs of studies, it's hard to say what caused the symptoms.
That being said, I think it is quite likely that the combination of the increased possibility of assault on the immune system and the severely taxed body from the running would increase the chance of sickness. I personally don't think this particular study can be used to make any conclusions one way or another.

[/ QUOTE ]

I really like that point, bro.

No, those type of studies can not be used to substantiate anything. They are correlative, which are not causal studies. But they support the hypothesis. Iíll show some more evidence momentarily. But I like your ideas on inhaling toxins, etc. Really good thoughts.

[ QUOTE ]

I think absolutely not. When you sweat, you flush toxins out of your system, and out of your skin. The sweat will push things out of your pores and leave them on the surface of the skin. And then when you shower afterwards, you wash these toxins away. I think using this same logic, anything you do that opens the pores would leave you open to invasion, including standing in the sun. Even still the pores don't open directly to the blood stream, which is the real danger I believe. Great thinking though. Everything that looks like it might contribute should be investigated...and I could be completely wrong...but I don't think so Not trying to be arrogant...

[/ QUOTE ]

Nice points. Again, I have not heard much on this, so I think it should be investigated.

[ QUOTE ]

I personally think that exercise clears up most problems if you "hit it hard" before the sickness really sets in. I know when I feel a cold coming on, if I do a really good cardio session, I rarely get any worse. I think there are at least two reasons for this: heat and blood flow.
Two lines of defense the body uses when things "get bad" are fever and tachycardia (increasing blood flow). I think by placing the body into these states with exercise are a huge benefit and take care of things before they "get bad". High fever is an attempt to kill off viruses and bacteria. Increased blood flow carries toxins and antigens to the body's filters to discard them. So when we exercise, this is happening while we are healthy. So anything that might be trying to establish a "beach head" to use the war analogy, will get swept away and killed before it has a chance. Also one of the most healing and vital substance we have access to is oxygen. And clearly exercise gets oxygen moving around in much larger quantities.

[/ QUOTE ]


That is really interesting.

Heat is something I am still investigating; it may have differential effects. It increases hormones that may enhance immune functions, and those which may hinder it.

I think all these thoughts are great. Ultimately, a combination of these things are the culprit.
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Matthew 7:20
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
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