February 10, 2022 – 07:17
According to British researchers, older people who keep on exercising have a much better immune system than less active peers and their immune system even resembles that of a 20-year-old. The latter applies to part of the immune system, not to everything the British studied. The positive effects of exercise on the immune system are apparent from many more studies. These effects lower the risk of chronic conditions, including that of various cancers. In addition, exercise can indeed ensure that the immune system does not deteriorate as quickly as you get older.
The effect of exercise on the immune system is an additional reason to encourage people to exercise and exercise more. About 45 percent of adults and 60 percent of the elderly do not exercise enough for it to contribute to good health. During this corona pandemic, people may realize sooner that a healthy lifestyle with more exercise pays off. After all, it is clear that especially people with underlying disease and obesity have a higher risk of a serious disease course, and that exercise is important to prevent some of the disorders. In addition, the figures for hospital admissions show that the elderly are admitted more often, even with vaccinations. A worse functioning immune system at a higher age and therefore limited protection by the vaccine also plays a role in this.
Much of our behaviour, and therefore also of our exercise behaviour, is not rational. Moreover, many people do not know enough about the positive effects of sufficient exercise and this knowledge is not provided to them. It is therefore essential to invest more in exercise and ensure that exercise becomes the easy and logical choice. National and local policy can contribute to this, and taking exercise in health care much more seriously as ‘medicine’ also helps.
Liesbeth Preller is an exercise specialist for the elderly and chronically ill at Kenniscentrum Sport & Bewegen.