All You Need Is 20 Minutes of Exercise for an Anti-Inflammatory Effect

Most people know that exercise is a healthy habit to incorporate into their lifestyles, whether they’ve made it a habit for themselves or not. Besides the fat burning, muscle strengthening, and disease preventing benefits that exercise is best known to deliver, new research has shed some light on how effective it can be for fighting inflammation as well.

What Exactly Is Inflammation?

You can think of inflammation as the body’s ”protection” mode as it responds to various forms of stress. For example, common stressors that might trigger an inflammatory response include viruses and bacteria.

According to WebMD, inflammation occurs when white blood cells release chemicals into the blood or tissue of the affected area. This is why we experience swelling, redness, warmth, and sometimes pain from an inflammatory response.

Inflammation is a necessary immune response that helps the body heal from injuries and fight off potentially harmful organisms. However, certain types of chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia cause the body’s immune system to trigger an inflammatory response, which could lead to other serious health problems.

How Exercise Helps

Exercise affects our bodies at the immune cell level, lead researcher Suzi Hong said in a statement. When we exercise, the brain and sympathetic nervous system are activated, which act as pathways that allow the body to do the work needed to carry out the exercise.

As the body does the work needed to perform the exercise, two hormones called epinephrine and norepinephrine are released and activate beta-2 adrenergic receptors, which are present in immune cells. This activation triggers an immune system response that causes a reduction in the number of cells producing the pro-inflammatory cell signalling protein, TNF.

For the study, 47 subjects walked on a treadmill for about 20 minutes at a moderate-intensity level that was adjusted to their fitness abilities. Blood samples were taken both before and after the 20-minute treadmill session, showing a five-percent reduction in the number of TNF producing cells.

The study findings suggest that it’s not necessary to exercise for a long time at a high intensity level in order to get the anti-inflammatory benefits. An activity as simple as going for a brisk 20 to 30-minute walk is really all it takes.

Researchers have long known about the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise, but finding out more about how the process works will help them determine the safest and most beneficial ways to use exercise in treating patients with chronic inflammatory diseases. The researchers pointed out that patients should always speak to their doctor first about their treatment options — including how moderate-intensity exercise might be safe enough for them to incorporate into their lifestyles.

How Everyone Can Benefit

It’s not known how other types of exercise might also affect inflammation, and it’s not clear what the results might look like for people who don’t suffer from chronic inflammation. Hong states that probably everyone can benefit since the immune response created by exercise can help the body become better at regulating inflammation over the long run.

Since inflammation in general is caused by stress, even minor health issues — like sleep deprivation due to traveling or digestive trouble from eating something the body didn’t agree with — can potentially cause inflammatory responses. By making exercise a regular part of your routine, you may be able to manage some of life’s most common stressors better thanks to the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise.

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Photo Credit: Thinkstock


William C
William Cabout a year ago


W. C
W. Cabout a year ago

Thank you.

Sarah H
Sarah Hill1 years ago


Chen Boon Fook
Chen Boon Fook2 years ago


Berny p
berny p2 years ago

Inflamation is cause by stress...hum...really?????

heather g
heather g2 years ago

I had tp double-check I read this correctly ????
Quote : "Since inflammation in general is caused by stress"

Telica R
Telica R2 years ago

Thank you for sharing

JD She
JD She2 years ago


Teresa W
Teresa W2 years ago

thank you

Winn A
Winn Adams2 years ago