This revelation comes from a comprehensive analysis of over 4,700 post-exercise fluid samples obtained from firefighters. The implications of this finding could be concerning for individuals in physically demanding occupations that require intense fitness training, such as emergency workers and athletes.
According to biomedical scientist Ernesto Nakayasu from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL),
“People who are very fit might be more prone to viral respiratory infection immediately after vigorous exercise. Having less inflammatory activity to fight off an infection could be one cause.”
How extreme exercise can harm your immune system
While there is substantial evidence supporting the idea that moderate physical activity benefits the immune system in the long run, the immediate effects of intense exercise on immunity remain a topic of debate.
Some previous studies have reported a higher incidence of upper respiratory tract infections among athletes following strenuous activities compared to control groups. However, whether this is a correlation or a cause remains uncertain.
To investigate further, Nakayasu and colleagues studied 11 firefighters. They collected samples of blood plasma, urine, and saliva before and after a challenging 45-minute exercise session. The goal was to detect early signs of physical exhaustion and improve safety for first responders, athletes, and the military.
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While exercise undeniably provides numerous health benefits, including boosting mood and strengthening the immune system, the study’s findings suggested signs of immune suppression in workout-exhausted firefighters.
Changes were observed in the participants’ body fluids, with a decrease in anti-inflammatory molecules and an increase in opiorphin, a substance known to widen blood vessels.
The significance of these alterations