Until recently, many scientists believed that exercise reduces the body’s ability to fight off infections. Past studies had found, for example, that after workouts, especially strenuous ones, people had fewer infection-fighting white blood cells in their bloodstreams than before working out, suggesting that their immune response had been weakened.
But a timely new review of studies about exercise and immunity indicates that the interactions between exercise and immunity are far more intricate than scientists once suspected. Some types of workouts may hinder the immune response, according to the review, while others bolster it. Encouragingly, it also seems that a few simple precautions, including consuming carbohydrates during exhausting workouts, might help to keep our immune systems robust.
Excerpted from nytimes.com