LONDON: While being in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, without access to gyms and sports clubs, may make it difficult for people to work out, researchers say that keeping up regular, daily exercise plays an important role in helping maintain a healthy immune system.
The analysis, published in the international journal Exercise Immunology Review, assessed studies conducted over the last four decades that investigated how exercise affects the immune system.
According to the researchers, including those from the University of Bach in the UK, regular moderate intensity exercise is beneficial for immunity.
They said in the short term, exercise can help the immune system find and deal with pathogens, and in the long term, regular exercise slows down changes that happen to the immune system with ageing, therefore reducing the risk of infections.
According to the scientists, these infections are more likely to be linked to inadequate diet, psychological stress, insufficient sleep, travel and importantly, pathogen exposure at social gathering events like marathons -- rather than the act of exercising itself.
"Our work has concluded that there is very limited evidence for exercise directly increasing the risk of becoming infected with viruses," said study co-author James Turner from the University of Bath.
In the context of coronavirus, the scientists said, the most important consideration is reducing exposure from other people who may be carrying the virus.
But they said people should not overlook the importance of staying fit, active and healthy during this period.
When carried out in isolation, away from others, regular, daily exercise will help better maintain the way the immune system works -- not suppress it, the researchers added.
"People should not fear that their immune system will be suppressed by exercise placing them at increased risk of coronavirus," said study co-author, John Campbell from the University of Bach.
"Provided exercise is carried out according to latest government guidance on social distancing, regular exercise will have a tremendously positive effect on our health and wellbeing, both today and for the future," Campbell added.
At this current time in particular, the scientists said maintaining good personal hygiene when exercising is extremely important, including thoroughly washing hands following work out sessions.
To give the body its best chance at fighting off infections, they suggested in addition to doing regular exercise, people also pay attention to the amount of sleep they get and maintain a healthy diet.