Exercise Duration/Intensity and the Immune System

What with all of the free time we’ve had recently and the covid-19 virus on the prowl and the fact that I had a blood cancer not too long ago I thought I’d spend some time looking into Exercise Duration/Intensity and the Immune System.

It seems to me that it all boils down to advising a low amount of “moderate” exercise is best. That we should all be aiming just to try to maintain fitness and not focus on any form of improvement.

Recommendations - “20-40mins of moderate exercise 3 times a week” :thinking:

Up until this week I’ve been riding about 7 hours a week. Should I follow the advice and curb my workouts to 45 mins or so three times a week.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

I started a similar thread on the Xert Users facebook page. It appears that Armando is thinking of doing a podcast about this. Your point seems to be in line with some reading of peer reviewed research I have found as well.

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I’ve read similar threads. Of note maybe, is that it seems you’re most ‘vulnerable’ in the first 15 - 30 minutes after a hard workout. I suppose you should take extra care there, maybe extend the cooling down period and cover yourself with a towel and/or put on a dry jersey.

Also, there would be more danger in training outdoors, so doing most of the work indoors right now, would probably be better. It also minimizes the chance of you getting an accident of any kind, which ends with you in a hospital.

I myself am not really easing down - I was about ready for a 42km TT on April 11, which obviously was cancelled - I can’t (or don’t want to) go from peak to off season or maintenance just like that.

You are in a different boat though, so yeah, you probably should…

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I think it should be more about exercise at the moment and not about training. I think you are correct about intensity. Personally I decided to cut the intensity right back and limit my outdoor rides to mid Z2 and do about 2.5 hours per day easy “Meandering about” cycling. When the weather is bad I plan to just do a little tempo on the turbo. As I said in a previous post somewhere, the maintenance and if possible the improvement in my immune system is currently my only priority.

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I watched this video from Dylan Johnson (a great YouTuber to follow for science-driven cycling subjects) and the broad conclusion was that no worries for endurance athletes … the whole immune system compromise from training isn’t well-supported by the scientific literature.

I didn’t delve the studies he referenced, but you may want to do so and draw your own conclusions about this, but it’s likely worth it for you to watch the video. It’s only 10 minutes long or so. Links to the studies are in the description.

Should We Keep Riding Through the Coronavirus Pandemic? The Science


I was about to post that very video JFC, nice job.
For me, the takeaway seems to be that the received wisdom that you’re compromised by exercising regularly is a little shakey. You may, briefly, have lower resistance immediately after exercise but, overall, exercising regularly bestows boosted immunity at all other times.


I’m working on the principle that moderate exercise is good for the immune system. High intensity and building fitness can compromise it. Simples.