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How extreme exercise can harm your immune system

ALBAWABA – For all the exercise enthusiasts out there, a recent study suggests that excessively vigorous exercise might have a surprising downside: it could potentially dampen your immune system.

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

immune system

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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

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24 hours fasting does not impair exercise performance or physiological parameters in CrossFit athletes

Fasting protocols are well known for various health benefits such as increasing metabolic flexibility, improving insulin sensitivity, promoting weight loss, and even slowing down the aging process. In the recent times studies have tested intermittent fasting (IF) in athletes, but its effects on female CrossFit athletes remain relatively unexplored in the existing literature.

A new study in Nutrients journal aimed to evaluate and compare the effects of 24-h IF on the physical performance of female CrossFit practitioners. The study found that 24-h fasting can lead to lower resting blood lactate concentrations, increased post-exercise lactate levels, and higher subjective hunger levels. However, fasting did not significantly affect ratings of perceived exertion, post-exercise blood glucose concentration, handgrip strength, jumping performance, performance times, heart rate parameters, or hydration levels.

Researchers included Eleven female CrossFit athletes (age: 30.91 ± 3.42, weight: 65.26 ± 7.55 kg, height: 1.66 ± 0.05 m) participated in the study. The study used a crossover design with fasting and eating conditions.

The key findings of the study

• Participants completed an exercise test, standing long jump, and handgrip strength assessment. Hydration status, heart rate, blood lactate, blood glucose, rates of perceived exertion, and hunger were measured.

• Results showed significant differences in blood lactate concentration (F = 5.435, p = 0.042, η2p = 0.352). Resting blood lactate concentration was significantly lower in the fasting trial than in the eating trial (p < 0.001), but post-exercise blood lactate concentrations were higher in the fasting trial than in the eating trial (p < 0.001).

• No differences were found in performance times (p > 0.05). In conclusion, this pilot study of females suggests that 24-h fasting does not impair exercise performance or negatively affect physiological parameters in CrossFit athletes.

Researchers concluded that “This pilot study of females suggests that 24-h fasting

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