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Better immune system with exercise

With the right volume and intensity on the exercise you can strengthen the immun system. Remember that for a while after a tough pass, the immune system can be slightly reduced in strength.

Per, Strength stairs

In the article Stärk ditt immunförsvar naturligt it is stated that physical activity every day can be good for the immune system. That is something that we need to remind ourselves about every now and then. We also need to understand why physical activity is good for us and what and how we should exercise to optimize our immune system and use this as a motivation to be active.

Why is exercise good for the immune system?

What we know through research is that exercise and physical activity impacts our immune system in a positive way and that physical activity to a certain extent strengthens our resistance against illnesses.

Exercise is good for our friends white cells, B cells and T cells increase in numbers. Without going to much into details regarding our biology I conclude that this strengthens our immune system. You can read more in the articles Träna lagom mycket och håll dig frisk and Så fungerar immunförsvaret.

With this written, it is time to activate the body if this is a missing part in life. If you want to get started with some support Challenge of the month is a good start. If you are already started then keep up the good work! Regardless of your status I think you should continue reading more about the details and insights how you get best effect for sustainable health.

Can exercise be less good for your immune system?

Yes, there are certain situations when you should not exercise

  • in some conditions such as fever, sore throat or other infections
    • In Idrottsläkaren guidar: Då ska du inte träna there is the tip to keep track of your normal temperature and your resting heart rate so with the help of technology you can make good decisions. Elevated temperature and / or resting heart rate higher than 20% higher than usual, there will be no exercise.
  • in certain medical treatments
  • in severe or prolonged stress
    • Depending on how stressed you are and for how long you have been stressed, exercise can make it all worse. I think that the more stressed you feel, the calmer and low-intensity you should take it when exercising.
  • you have a large training volume, exercise often and feel weaker after a workout.
    • It could be that you are starting to get overworked, so keep track of your resting heart rate just like for the illness condition above and make decisions that are good for your health.
  • you feel unmotivated to exercise even though you have it as a routine

If you recognize any of the above example, I think you should think a little about whether training is necessary at all, or if it is time to break patterns and do some new exercise to get motivation back.

You may need to talk to, for example, a doctor, physiotherapist, psychologist or coach like me who can advise you while taking a much needed break?

How to train then to optimize the immune system?

I am going to divide the question into type, quantity and intensity of the exercise to find ways to optimize the effect on the immune system.

What type of exercise is good?

I think you recognize the short answer here, all exercise that are actually carried out is good.

There is more research on cardio training and the link to the immune system than the strength training effect on the immune system. You can say that WHO’s advice with 150-300 minutes of physical activity per week where the heart rate goes up to between 50-70% (moderate raise of the pulse is something that you can read more about in Target Heart Rate and Estimated Maximum Heart Rate) of your max pulse is a good start. In The Compelling Link Between Physical Activity and the Bodys Defense System you can dive into even more details.

If you want to calculate your 50-70% you can use this calculator. It will calculate your max pulse and your 50 to 70% span.

What volume of exercise is good?

All training that is carried out is good, simply described, it can be said that up to a certain limit, training is good and lowers the immune system temporarily and then it goes back to normal. In Fysisk aktivitet både stimulerar och hämmar immunförsvaret you can dive into facts from research showing that dependent on how much and intes yu exercise the immune system can be impacted for 24 hours and with a moderate raise of the pulse for 3-4 occasions per week you can strengthen the immune system and slow down infections somewhat.

What intensity is good?

Intensity can be anything from moderate to high. Remember that the higher the intensity, the longer recovery you need to avoid the immune system to be reduced inte strength over time.

Combination intensity over time need to guide the recovery

It is individual how intense and for how long, and that should guide the recovery. If you exercise with low intensity and during a short period of time to need less recovery than if you exercise with high intensity during a longer period, obvious perhaps and important to remind oneself about it.

To exemplify some more I created this principle diagram with intensity on the vertical scale and time on the horizontal scale where size of the circle is recovery time.


  • Exercise is good for the immune system, cardio exercise we know through research that it is especially good.
  • The harder (intense during longer period) you exercise the longer you need to recover to avoid worsening the immune system