HEALTH

Exercise Could Help Heal Injuries And Prevent Infections, New Study Suggests

Even a thumb resistance exercise increased the number of white blood cells in the body.

26/04/2017 10:51 AM AEST | Updated 26/04/2017 8:24 PM AEST
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We all know that exercise is good for our health, but Queensland researchers have just given us another reason to pick up our neglected gym passes and hit the gym.

It turns out that a dose of bench presses or a prescription of bicep curls could help ward off infection and heal injuries, according to Griffith University scientists.

The researchers are so confident in their findings that they hope exercise will be incorporated into medical advice for wound healing and preventing infections in the future.

It's already been shown that aerobic exercise -- even mild exercise like a 20 minute walk each day -- could reduce a person's risk of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) such as the common cold, says Dr Adam Szlezak from Griffith's Menzies Health Institute Queensland. But not much was known about the effects of resistance training.

The study, published in Immunology Letters, looked at research from 1989 through to 2016 where participants undertook a single session of various resistance exercises.

Even a low dose of thumb resistance exercise increased the number of key white blood cells in the circulation."

It showed that the strength training was actually able to increase the numbers of key white blood cells in the body, all of which are vital either to protecting the body against infection or aiding in healing injuries.

"We found that both high and low dosages of resistance exercise increased the immune system's surveillance potential in the participants in a similar way to that of aerobic exercise," Dr Szlezak said.

"Even a low dose of thumb resistance exercise increased the number of key white blood cells in the circulation."

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The higher the intensity of the exercise, the greater and more rapid this increase in white blood cells became.

"It may even eventually be possible to prescribe resistance exercise in a healthy limb to improve the transport of white blood cells to an injured limb, aiding with healing and effectively changing the way we manage injuries," Dr Szlezak said

While further research is needed in order to confirm the findings, Dr Szlezak hopes that the study will help people rethink their reasons for exercising.

"It may not just be for fitness and losing weight; it could also overhaul our whole approach to our health."

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