Does exercise reduce inflammation? M.D. Thorids Berger on the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise:
It is well established that physical inactivity increases the risk of type 2 diabetes (1 2), cardiovascular disease (2), colon cancer (3), breast cancer (4), dementia (5) and depression (6).
Physical exercise, in the sense of a structured physical activity to achieve some functional or
morphological objective, has an important function in the prevention of these pathologies, as it promotes several adaptations in the body. These adaptations may include changes in body composition (muscle mass, fat percentage, etc.), regulation of physiological parameters (such as heart rate and blood pressure), influence on the metabolism (anabolism and catabolism) of various substances, among others.
In addition, physical exercise influences the body´s inflammatory response, improving the body´s defences against the mechanisms linked to the appearance of the aforementioned pathologies.
In recent years, several studies have confirmed and expanded previous knowledge relating to the epidemiological associations between inflammation and certain pathologies.
We now know that chronic inflammation promotes the development of insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, neurodegeneration and tumour growth (7) and subsequently the development of a series of diseases associated with physical inactivity (8).
The anti-inflammatory effects of regular exercise seem to be mediated both through a reduction in the mass of visceral fat (with a subsequent decrease in the release of adipokines, that is, proteins secreted by the adipose tissue and which can participate in the inflammation and response of the immune system) and by an anti-inflammatory environment obtained at each exercise session. The muscle that is active with the exercise produces substances that are beneficial for the prevention of inflammation, and with this it is able to inhibit the inflammatory secretions that are produced by the adipose tissue. Several studies show that inflammation markers are reduced after long-term behavioural changes that include reduced energy intake and increased physical activity (9).
Exercise is effectively an important approach, which, if modulated in the correct way (meaning fat mass loss and lean mass gain) can have this anti-inflammatory effect and, consequently, reduce the risk of developing diseases pathologies associated with chronic inflammatory diseases.
1 Tuomilehto J, Lindstrom J, Eriksson JG, Valle TT, Hamalainen H, Ilanne-Parikka P, Keinanen-Kiukaanniemi S, Laakso M, Louheranta A, Rastas M, Salminen V and Uusitupa M. Prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus by changes in lifestyle among subjects with impaired glucose tolerance. N Engl J Med 344: 1343-1350, 2001.
2 Nocon M, Hiemann T, Muller-Riemenschneider F, Thalau F, Roll S and Willich SN. Association of physical activity with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil 15: 239-246, 2008
3 Wolin KY,YanY, Colditz GA and Lee IM. Physical activity and colon cancer prevention: a meta-analysis. Br J Cancer 100: 611-616, 2009
4 Wolin KY,YanY, Colditz GA and Lee IM. Physical activity and colon cancer prevention: a meta-analysis. Br J Cancer 100: 611-616, 2009
5 Rovio S, Kareholt I, Helkala EL, Viitanen M, Winblad B, Tuomilehto J, Soininen H, Nissinen A and Kivipelto M. Leisure-time physical activity at midlife and the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Lancet Neurol 4: 705-711, 2005.
6 Paffenbarger RS, Jr., Lee IM and Leung R. Physical activity and personal characteristics
associated with depression and suicide in American college men. Acta Psychiatr Scand Suppl 377: 16-22, 1994.
7 Handschin C and Spiegelman BM. The role of exercise and PGC1alpha in inflammation and chronic disease. Nature 454: 463-469, 2008
8 Pedersen BK. The diseasome of physical inactivity–and the role of myokines in muscle–fat cross talk. J Physiol 587: 5559-5568, 2009
9 Petersen AM and Pedersen BK. The anti-inflammatory effect of exercise. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2005 Apr;98(4):1154-62.
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