Here are some of the best anti-inflammatory exercises—and the science behind them.
Inflammation is a word thrown around a lot — and with good reason. When inflammation is chronic (as opposed to acute), meaning it’s slow, cumulative, and lasts for months to years, it can affect your health in a variety of ways. First, chronic inflammation depletes your immune system, which can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and more.
Taking an active role in your health, trying to prioritize good sleep, keeping stress levels low, and eating anti-inflammatory foods can help prevent inflammation. It also has the potential to add years to your life. Another great way to reduce inflammation and boost your immune system: Get some good, old-fashioned exercise on a regular basis.
All acute exercise induces a low-grade inflammatory response, and then the body adapts, resulting in long-term anti-inflammatory adaptations. That’s why the healthier you are, the fewer markers of chronic inflammation.
A systematic review of research in Frontiers in Physiology backs this up, revealing that both moderate and vigorous exercise can elicit an inflammatory response. However, the study does note that “high-intensity exercise, especially during a shortened recovery period, can lead to persistent dysregulation of the immune system and increased susceptibility to disease. Think: intense HIIT classes) and some low-intensity, low-impact exercise (stretching, walking, light biking, etc.) is why it’s so important to alternate.
To reap the inflammatory benefits of exercise and start feeling better, try including one or all of these anti-inflammatory exercises in your fitness routine.
Honestly, walking is one of the best things you can do for your health. Not only is it free and available to nearly anyone, but the time spent walking offers many beneficial benefits, including boosting your energy, improving your memory, and eliminating stress you know it. It can also help relieve inflammation. It is now understood that the same chemicals released to regulate inflammation are also released during exercise, and that 20 minutes of jogging or power walking is enough to reap the inflammatory benefits of exercise. What’s more: Even just 20 minutes of moderate exercise on a treadmill, like brisk walking or jogging, reduces immune cells that produce TNF, a key to local and systemic inflammation, according to research in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity Regulators that also help improve the immune response.
2. Strength training
Lifting weights, whether light or heavy, is key if you want to protect your body from inflammation and its long-lasting effects. Strength training evokes an anti-inflammatory response after exercise, a review of studies in the British Journal of Sports Medicine: Muscle-strengthening activity was associated with a 10% to 17% lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, total cancer, diabetes, and lung cancer % related.
Yoga isn’t just about impressing your friends with a flawless crow pose (although that’s impressive! This movement practice invites us to tune our bodies so we can face and release our hidden underlying emotions, flexing May help reduce inflammation in several chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic stress, cardiometabolic risk factors, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Yoga reduces inflammation not only by improving circulation and stabilizing breathing, but also by calming the mind and calming the nervous system, which can reduce stress-related eating triggers. To really reap the benefits, breathe consciously while practicing yoga. Breathing in through the nose helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps with stress regulation, which reduces inflammation in the body, and spinal twists and “legs on the wall” pose are recommended to help fight inflammation.
Looking for a whole new way to get your heart pumping while preventing inflammation? Jumping on a mini-trampoline or bouncing was very trendy a few years ago, but due to the pandemic and many celebrities doing it, there has been a resurgence — probably because of the many benefits. For starters, low-impact, high-aerobic, anti-inflammatory exercise is more effective than running, according to research in the Journal of Applied Physiology. Thus, we are removing toxins from the body while reducing inflammation. Rebound has also been found to increase bone density, improve balance, and reduce pain severity.